Concerned Imo State indigenes resident in Abuja have called on President Muhammadu Buhari to probe the use of soldiers for Saturday’s demolition of Ekeukwu Market, Owerri by the Imo State Government.
Three people were feared dead in the incident, including a 10-year-old boy, Somtochukwu Igboanusi.
Chief Sam Obaji, who spoke on behalf of the group on Tuesday in Abuja, urged Buhari to set up a judicial commission of inquiry into circumstances surrounding the use of armed personnel for the demolition.
He said that anybody involved in the unlawful operation should be prosecuted in accordance with the law.
Obaji said: “We are disheartened that the government involved the military in a civil operation where there is no breakdown of law and order.
“There is no national security consideration in the demolition of market that police supervision will not be enough.
“The government should have recognised that all over the world, including across cities in Nigeria, demolition would be greeted by protests.”
Obaji said that as leaders, they were in support of government’s renewal project in Imo but stressed that government projects should not inflict hardship on the people.
He said: “In as much as it is the priority of government to determine the direction of urban renewal, we believe that a responsive and responsible government would undertake a process that minimises hardship and disruption to economic and social lives of citizens.”
He said that Governor Rochas Okorocha was behaving like an emperor, considering that a High Court, presided by Justice S.I. Okpara, restrained the government from carrying out the demolition.
Obaji accused the governor of heating up the polity as the spot provided at Agbeada for the traders had no infrastructure.
He also questioned the haste for the demolition against the background that Imo had many uncompleted projects.
Former Chairman of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Agency, Dr. Sam Amadi, and the Chairman of Dozie Owerri Group, Chief Tony Anyadike, were among those at the briefing.