Northerners doing business in Umuchieze Cattle Market, Umunneochi Local Government Area of Abia State, have refuted the allegation that they were habouring bandits, kidnappers, and armed robbers.
The spokesperson of the group, Buba Kedemure, who addressed reporters at the market on Monday, said they were deeply worried by the allegation.
He said that it was alleged that criminals were “authorised by the group, to plan and attack their victims within and outside the state”.
Mr Kedemure said the allegation was an “attempt by some disgruntled people within and outside the cattle market to incite the host communities and the government against them”.
The market, he said, was established more than 16 years ago and had become a unifying factor between the north and south.
He said “some people were not happy with the peaceful co-existence between the community and the host communities”.
Mr Kedemure said the group had written to the commissioner of police and the director of State Security Service in Abia State in January to inform them about the security challenges in the market.
He called on the people of the state to disregard the allegation, saying “we are law-abiding citizens who are engaged in legitimate business”.
The spokesperson urged the security agencies to redouble efforts in protecting lives and property, as well as visit the market “to see things for themselves”.
Meanwhile, the chairman of the group, Annayim Umar, said “they had been preaching peace, unity and brotherliness and would not relent in ensuring that there was peace and order in the market”.
Abia, like other states in Nigeria’s South-east, has been grappling with security challenges, including kidnapping for ransom.
The state government has imposed curfew in some major cities as one of the measures to check insecurity in the state.
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