There was disquiet on Friday as controversial Imo State governor, Rochas Okorocha commenced the demolition of the ancestral market of Atta people in the Ikeduru Local Governemnt Area of the state, popularly known as “Eke-Atta” with a history dating back to over six hundred years.
Bulldozers sent in by Okorocha’s government went in as early as eight in the morning and started levelling stores, stalls and houses in the market to the ground – with the helpless owners watching in disbelief as the man they voted into office showed them the oppressive and merciless face of power.
Sources said the demolition was completed Saturday morning and the governor personally came to see that it was taken to its logical end.
The Imo State Government claimed that the demolition became necessary to facilitate the building of an ultra-modern market there. But sources tell this blog that Okorocha was overheard at the site of the demolition dishing out instructions to the site engineer, telling him the shape and size he wants the demolition and the envisaged expansion to go.
This support the theory that there was no plan at hand of any ultra-modern market before he ordered the demolition of a market were hundreds on families depend on for their daily survival.
Needless to say that there is no plan by the government to compensate or rehabilitate the displaced traders and families (there are family houses in the market).
Calls sent to Okorocha’s media aide, Ebere Nzewuji to get the government plan for the displaced people were not answered.
A trader whose store was demolished told CHECKPOINTCHARLEY that he is thinking of committing suicide. “I have seven children, how can I now feed and pay their school fees?” he asked.
“Okorocha is not a governor, he is an emperor running a government of dominion,” another distraught Atta indigene said.
“As a child, I saw the importance my late grandmother attached to Eke-Atta market day and she spent the whole week gathering things from her farms to sell on the day of the market. For her and people of her generation, even in our generation, there is nothing like Eke day, now someone comes to destroy this culture and way of life just because he thinks he has the power.”
Recall that in September last year, Okorocha’s government also demolished the ancestral “Eke-Ukwu” market of the Owerri people, destroying important heritage sites in its pursuit of a ruthless urbanization policy that does not put food on the table of the commonplace people in the state.
That demolition exercise had also ended on a tragic note, with the killing of 10-year-old Somto Ibeanusi, who was killed by soldiers sent by Okorocha to enforce the demolition.