The Governor of Ebonyi State, Dave Umahi, on Thursday said that even though traders in the state had planned to protest against the relocation of Boko Haram prisoners to the South East, they shelved it because the suspects have already been moved to Abuja.
Umahi told journalists that: “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.”
Umahi said that risking the lives of the people of the state on the streets was not the best.
It was gathered that the planned protest by the traders was expected to take place simultaneously across the five states of the South-East.
The traders in Abakaliki, according to sources, were expected to convene at the Abakpa main market at about 8am.
According to The Punch:
They were to march round the state capital before converging at the Government House gate where Umahi was also expected to address them.
It was observed that riot mobile policemen had taken over the market to prevent the traders from embarking on the protest and to avert possible breakdown of law and order in the state.
When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer, Chris Anyanwu, said that the command had to beef up security on major roads and locations of the state to avert any 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.”