Sincere condolences to the Ibeanusi family who are said to reside at No 23 Oguamanam street in Owerri. There is no longer doubt that their son, Somtoochukwu was mauled down by a stray bullet outside Eke-Ukwu Market, Owerri. My interactions with some people who were around the venue where the boy was hit by this bullet, confirmed that the boy came to trash some wastes in a public waste disposal container provided by the State Government, before he was hit by the bullet. The unfortunate coincidence is that this innocent blood got cold on the same day as Owerri, the Imo State capital was liberated from the grip of filth, armed robbery, kidnapping and all the unfortunate things the former site of the Eke-Ukwu Owerri represented, in recent times.

The relocation of Eke-Ukwu Owerri is one of the, if not the most audacious step ever taken by any government in the history of Imo State, and of course the most patriotic and most selfless of them all.

Leaders of the main opposition Party in the State and their various media aides have been celebrating the unfortunate death of this innocent boy and taunting the parents. Almost all the PDP leaders have put out a press statement brandishing the pictures of the innocent boy’s remains. This level of celebration and mindless politicization of what is obviously a collective tragedy to all men of good conscience calls for serious interrogation.

The Party knew of the State Government’s plans to relocate the market. They have their members in the House of Assembly, and if the Party really cared, they would have used their members in the House to push for the stoppage of the relocation. But, they didn’t. Rather, they hatched a dangerous plan to discredit the exercise and use same to blackmail the government. It does not matter to them, if it has to do with the life of an innocent boy. All they care for is to get power, by any means possible. God has forbidden!

In saner climes, and where the practice of journalism is taken up by well trained professionals, care is taken before releasing such news to the public as it could trigger a dangerous crisis that may consume more lives. Life is more sacred than truth. even though truth is life! That is why the father of faith, Abraham had to be tactful in revealing the true identity of his wife when they visited Gerar. “Wisdom is the principal thing, upon all thy getting, get wisdom” He waited for the appropriate time to reveal that truth.

The relocation which is long overdue enjoyed massive support from Imo masses, a number of whom have had unpleasant encounters in the former market. Many people took to the social media to praise Governor Rochas Okorocha for taking the step. This remained the situation, till sometime around 10:am when social media users, whose allegiance to the PDP and some of its leaders is known to every Tom, Dick and Ihedioha. The news of this death and the poignant image of the bloodied remains of that little boy, automatically swayed public opinion and a good number of people understandably allowed their emotions to take grip of them, as they began to justifiably question why live ammunition had to be fired.

Those who ask these questions may not have the information that the Police and other military personnel who were deployed to maintain peace and orderliness during the relocation exercise came under gunfire from some hooligans who either tried to resist the relocation of the market or wanted the security agents to allow them to loot the goods of some traders who could not remove their wares early enough. Some eye witnesses confirm that the soldiers were quite professional and allowed people access to their shops, as long as they show evidence that such shops belong to them. One of such evidence is that they must have the keys to such shops. Those who tried to force doors open, were sent away by the security agents.

It is important to restate for the sake of emphasis that the State Government had notified traders doing business in the old Eke-Ukwu market of its intention to relocate the market, for over three years now and alternatives have been provided. The State Government has built over 500 extra lock-up shops in Relief Market, out of which more than 400 are still unoccupied till date, a new market has been built in Naze, Owerri, while about 1000 brand new lock-up shops have been fully completed in Nekede area of Owerri West, less than five kilometers away from the old Eke-Ukwu market. A brand new market is also under construction in Egbeada area of the State, with original shop owners in the old Eke-Ukwu market allocated spaces, preferentially. However, some of these shop owners refused to develop their own plots as a ploy to frustrate the government’s efforts at relocating the decrepit and crime infested market.


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