The Ebonyi Police Command said on Wednesday that it had deployed its Tactical Team to the Abakpa main market, Abakaliki, where some traders and members of the government’s Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) team clashed recently.
DSP Loveth Odah, the Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, in the state said that the Tactical Team would be led by an Assistant Commissioners of Police in charge of Metro and Police Mobile Force.
Odah said that information available to the police indicated that one person was injured in the clash as against the report of one death being insinuated in some quarters.
“I spoke with the Public Relations Officer, PRO, of the Alex Ekwueme Federal Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki and he confirmed that the injured person is currently receiving treatment at the hospital.
“We will, however, be relying on information from our Tactical Team on further developments as we are confident in their ability to restore normalcy in the market,” he said.
The PPRO said it was the police’s duty to provide security in such situations, noting that the arrests made at the market was a strategy to ensure that normalcy returned to the area.
“In crises situations, police take people away, maybe to its stations, for normalcy to return to such areas.
“When you fail to take some people away but allow them do whatever they like in such areas such as throwing stones, sticks, making inflammatory utterances among other acts, the situation will worsen.
“The best measure police take in such conditions is to take some people away for others to stay off the area and for ultimate normalcy to return,” he said.
Mr. Stanley Okoro-Emegha, Commissioner for Border, Peace and Internal Security, denied using thugs to seal stalls of traders who were protesting the alleged imposition of leadership by the government and forceful relocation.
“The government will release the list of the traders who have refused to make statutory payments to it and are responsible for the incessant burglary in the market.
“I personally led a team that sealed about five shops and this does not mean that the entire market was shut down; which caused an uprising,” he said.
Mr. Martin Okwuegbu, the Special Assistant (SA) to the Governor on IGR, also debunked the traders’ allegations, saying that sealing of shops was an approved mode of enforcing the government’s IGR drive.
“There are evidences to show that these traders are actually owing the government, as the deposed leader of the traders, Mr. Christopher Eze, failed to remit the actual amount owed the government.
“We served the traders appropriate demand notices with appropriate warnings and time to make due payments, but some of them felt that nothing will happen,” he said.
Mrs. Grace Njelita, a trader, told newsmen that they were not owing the government, but the affected shops belonged to its leaders who signed the petition against the government’s actions in the market.
“We are protesting the forceful change of our democratically elected leadership and plans to forcefully eject us to the new International Market which is not yet ready for use,” she said.