Owerri Market Demolition Controversy: PDP reacts, calls for investigation

Owerri market demolition [Photo: Naij.com]

The opposition Peoples Democratic Party has condemned the deadly violence that followed the “forcefully demolition” of the popular Ekeukwu market, in Owerri, by the Imo State Government, yesterday. 
PREMIUM TIMES confirmed at least one person, 10-year old Somtochukwu Ibeanusi, died, allegedly from bullet fired by soldiers, in the course of the demolition. But PDP, in a statement by its spokesperson, Dayo Adeyeye, said “three people” were killed. 
“We condemn the Forceful Demolition of the Popular Eke Ukwu Market and violent eviction of traders in Owerri by the Imo State Government using men of the Nigerian Police Force and other security agencies during which three (3) people including a 10-year-old child were extra-judicially murdered and several other people were injured,” said the PDP on Sunday.
The soldiers as well as agents of the police, the State Security Service and the Civil Defence, PREMIUM TIMES learnt, were deployed to maintain law and order during the demolition of the Owerri Main Market, popularly known as Eke-Ukwu Owerri, by the state government.
We gathered that the traders had resisted the government’s efforts to demolish the market and relocate them to other place, before the Rochas Okorocha government decided to mobilise force for the demolition exercise, which started Friday night. 
“This violent eviction is all the more condemnable because it was carried out in violation of a pending Order granted by an Imo State High Court restraining the Imo State Government from demolishing the Market and Evicting the Traders,” the PDP further stated.
“This action, sadly, follows a pattern of the Use of the Apparatus of State Security to forcefully and violently carry out evictions of ordinary Nigerians from valuable property in blatant violation of Court Orders. Not very long ago, the Lagos State Government ordered the Forceful Eviction of indigent Nigerians from waterfront properties to enable it enter into joint venture agreements for the Construction of luxury apartments. Like the Owerri incident, this eviction led to the deaths of at least two (2) people and the Injury of several others, including women and children.”
The opposition party said it was not opposed to urban renewal which Imo State government said prompted the demolition, but that people’s rights and the rule of law should be respected. 
“As much as we acknowledge the deals of development and the construction of critical infrastructure, these ideals must be pursued within the confines of respect for the Rule of Law as well as in a humane manner that preserves the dignity of indigent Nigerians while giving them viable and affordable alternatives regarding where to live, grow and trade,” the PDP said.
Unfortunately, the All Progressives Congress, Mr. Okorocha’s party, PDP lamented, “does not recognise such valuable ideals and as such, continues to design, promote and pursue anti-people policies.”
The party then called for the “immediate investigation of these extra-judicial murders and for the culprits to be brought to book.” 
“Only such an action will give justice to the Dead and discourage the Use of the Police and other security agencies as tools for further oppression of ordinary Nigerians.”
The Imo State Government had denied that there was violence during the demolition.


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