Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State has explained the reason why the protest against the relocation of suspected Boko Haram insurgents to Anambra State as planned by traders did not hold.
Governor Umahi told newsmen on Thursday, July 9, 2015 while on an inspection tour of some ongoing projects in Abakaliki, that the protest became unnecessary because the suspects have already been taken back to Abuja adding that putting the lives of the people of the state at risk was not the best.
He said, “The traders have the right to protest but there was no need for the protest because we (South-East governors) had enjoined the Federal Government not to relocate any Boko Haram prisoner to any prison in the South-East. Those suspects brought to Anambra State have been taken back to Abuja.
“The state decided against the protest for the reason that the governors of the region had intimated the Presidency on their opinion on the matter, and so no need for anyone to encourage people of the state to take to the streets.”
According to PUNCH reports, the traders’ planned protest was to have taken place simultaneously across all five states which make up the South East. The Abakaliki traders were supposed to have gathered at the Abakpa main market at 8:00am and then proceeded to match through the state capital with the Government House their final stop where Governor Umahi was also expected to address them.
Riot mobile policemen were also present all over the market and were supposedly there to prevent the prostest and avert any possible breakdown of law and order.
The police spokesperson in the state, DSP Chris Anyanwu, said that when they received information about the traders’ plans, the command immediately had to beef up security on major roads and locations in order to avert possible breakdown of law and order.
He said, “We got wind of plans by traders in Abakaliki markets to stage a peaceful protest over what they alleged as relocation of persons suspected to be Boko Haram members to some prisons in the South-East. We had to mobilise our men immediately to major roads and locations in the state to avert any breakdown of law and order.
“Part of our responsibility is to ensure the security of lives and properties of the citizenry. We envisaged that hoodlums may take advantage of the protest to disrupt the peace of the state especially now that the election petition tribunal is sitting in the state capital. We don’t want people to loot peoples’ properties in the name of peaceful protest, so we had to mobilise our men.”
In a related development, Mr. John Lebo, the Speaker of the Cross Rivers State House of Assembly has declared that any attempt by the Federal Government to send the suspected insurgents to the state prison facilities would be resisted.
Mr. Lebo made this declaration in reaction to a question about the recent public outcry on the relocation of the prisoners during his maiden press briefing on Thursday, July 9, 2015 in Calabar, the Cross Rivers State capital.
He emphasized that the FG should not even think about relocating such suspects to Cross River State prison facilities as the state could not accommodate them even though the state has over six prison facilities in different locations.
Lebo said, “We will resist relocation of Boko Haram suspects to Calabar Prisons or any other one in the state.”
He assured the citizens that the assembly was all out to make good laws that would positively imoact their lives. He also called for the need for a robust relationship among the legislative and executive arms of government stating that this would help to further deepen our democracy.