At least, three people, including a 10-year-old boy, who were protesting the insensitive demolition of Eke Ukwu Market, Owerri by the Imo State Government, have been reportedly shot to death.
The 10-year-old boy, Somtochukwu Ibeanusi, and others were allegedly shot dead by soldiers from the 34 Artillery Brigade, Obinze, sent by Governor Rochas Okorocha to intimidate the people and traders during the demolition of the Owerri Main Market, “Eke Ukwu”.
Unfortunately, the soldiers allegedly opened fire on residents protesting the demolition of the market.
The father of the deceased, Isaiah Ibeanusi, wept uncontrollably at his No. 9 Oguamanam Street residence, near the demolished market. He told reporters how his son died instantly after a bullet hit him on his head.
He said his soon was killed while he was trying to remove his goods during the demolition exercise, which was supervised by the army, police, State Security Service, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, and the Air Force.
“I told my little son to come and assist me remove my goods from the shop before the people demolishing the market got to the place.
“When we were crossing the road we all raised our hands up but these soldiers just drove by and opened fire and shot my son in the head. The bullet hit him in the eye and came out from the back of his head and he fell and died.
“I want justice. I don’t want the killers of my son to go unpunished. He was just a little boy, he was not armed. I don’t know if I can bear this.”
CHECKPOINTCHARLEY gathered that it was an early morning invasion that took the traders and the Owerri people by surprise.
“Owerri Youths tried to resist the demolition but were subdued by the security operatives and militants hired by the government,” a trader, whose shop was demolished said.
The planned relocation of market by Governor Okorocha administration has been a major issue between the Imo state government and traders of the market as well as some indigenes of Owerri, who see the location of the market as their ancestral home.
The traders had rejected the move and have taken the state government to court over the issue.
The Imo state Governor had on Friday, through a press statement signed by the Deputy Chief of Staff Operations, Kingsley Uju, given traders to move out of the market. But the big question remained, move to where?
With no where to move, the traders and the Owerri people decided to resist what they deemed a highhanded order.