- The Abia State Government, under the guidance of its Security Adviser, Navy Commander MacDonald Uba, has taken significant steps to address security concerns along the Lokpanta-Umunneochi-Uturu axis of the state.
- To combat rising insecurity in the region, the government has converted the cattle market in Lokpanta, Umunneochi Local Government Area, into a daily non-residential market.
As part of these measures, the government has also taken action to dismantle and destroy 160 brothel rooms located within the market, as these were suspected to harbor kidnappers and other criminals. Contrary to allegations that the government had ordered traders, many of whom are not from the southeast, to leave the state, the government clarified that this is not the case. They stated that there is no truth in asking the community in Lokpanta to leave.
The Lokpanta-Umunneochi-Uturu axis had been facing security challenges for over a year prior to these actions. The government had launched ‘Operation Crush’ to tackle kidnapping in the state, and all signs pointed to the cattle market in Lokpanta as a focal point for criminal activity.
Kidnappers had been operating from this area, and ransom payments were often made there. Market dealers allowed kidnappers to use the location for their criminal activities. Additionally, traders had extended the market into the median lane of the Okigwe-Enugu expressway, using it as a base for monitoring commercial buses and orchestrating robberies. The government dismantled this encroachment.
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Recent actions were taken, leading to the demolition of over 160 brothel rooms, arrests, and the recovery of significant sums of money. The government now intends to convert the market into a daily market, as is common in other parts of the country. The market will be designated as non-residential.
The government clarified that the state’s intention is not to displace the cattle dealers, who often have roots in the area. Many of them are second or third-generation Igbos, and some are of Hausa heritage but born in the state. The state government does not believe in the concept of state of origin, and it has no plans to send these traders elsewhere. The primary goal is to enhance security in the region, making Abia a safer place for investment and development.
The new operational hours for the market will be from 6 am to 5 pm daily, as the government strives to improve security conditions and attract investment to the state.