Two traders were slain by security agents while protesting the closure of their businesses in Ogbete Main Market by the Enugu State government for failing to come to market on Monday.
Several other traders were also hurt during the demonstration, which has resulted in the market’s indefinite closure by Governor Peter Mbah’s government.
According to our correspondent, the governor has declared war on businesses that comply with the sit-in order issued by the Indigenous People of Biafra in the South East area to demand the release of their leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.
Kanu has been detained by the Department of State Services since June 2021.
Mbah closed multiple shops, malls, and banks on Monday, accusing them of participating in the “illegal sit-at-home” protest.
Justifying the closure of private enterprises, Mbah stated in a statement issued on Tuesday and signed by the state government’s Secretary, Prof Chidiebere Onyia, that the sealed shops would remain closed for one week.
He also stated that owners of businesses that have been sealed must provide their current tax clearance certificates as well as all other relevant revenue documents by the end of one week in order for the state government to review and consider their formal letters for re-opening, or they will be auctioned or permanently forfeited to the state government.
However, our correspondent learned on Wednesday that the trouble began when traders whose shops were sealed informed market leadership that their stores must be unsealed for business or those that are unsealed will not open.
A market dealer identified as Gerald Ede informed our correspondent that the traders’ request that other businesses not open led to a protest.
“Shortly after receiving orders from the governor, a considerable number of soldiers and policemen were dispatched to the market.
Upon their arrival, they began firing their weapons in a haphazard manner, forcing people to flee and locking up shops. In the midst of the chaotic situation, two traders lost their lives as they were shot by the soldiers while inside the market.
Thankfully, the speaker of these events managed to escape unharmed, attributing it solely to the Grace of God.
A police officer, who verified the incident, expressed regret over the unfortunate occurrence.
According to the officer, the governor had directed the security agencies to ensure that no traders remained inside Ogbete Main Market, and this led to the shooting when the traders refused to leave.
The officer further explained being present in the market along with the Divisional Police Officer (DPO), soldiers, and various other security agents. The market had been completely shut down, and there was no one present at the time of the conversation.
Regarding the tragic event of the two traders being shot, the officer stated that they couldn’t personally confirm the killings but had heard about it.
Additionally, the State Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Daniel Ndukwe, verified that there was indeed a protest in response to the government’s closure of businesses in the market.”
Ndukwe, in a phone conversation with our correspondent, stated that he cannot verify the presence of any traders, but he emphasized that a protest by traders was ongoing at Ogbete Market.
To prevent any potential disruption of law and order, the police, soldiers, and other security agencies had been sent to the market.