On Saturday, August 17, 2018, Rochas Okorocha, then governor of Imo State, accompanied by horde of security operatives and bull dozers demolished the ancestral Eke Ukwu market, Owerri.

During the demolition, a minor, 13 year old Master Somotochukwu Ibeanusi, was killed by a stray bullet said to have come from one of the operatives.

This attracted widespread condemnation and outrage across the globe.

The Eke Ukwu Owerre market is one of the notable cultural identities of the people of Owerri Nchi Ise, popularly called Owerri Municipal.

After the demolition of the market, Philip Njemanze, a medical doctor and founder  of Owerri Indigenous forum, described the demolition of the market as ethnic cleansing.

Njemanze, a relentless advocate of the rights of Owerri people went further to enumerate several cultural symbols belonging to Owerri people, which has been demolished by past governments in the State.

In a 13 page letter to the International Criminal Court and several other organizations, including the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, backed with evidence and exhibits over the demolition of the market, the Mbari Centre, and the land called 3R Residential layout at Onitsha Road, Njemanze noted that “the demolition, included total extermination of cultural symbols, dispossession of lands, forced assimilation, and forced resettlement from ancestral homes”

He went further to call for a plan of action, which include among other things, that “the office of the UN High Commissioner For Human Rights (OHCR), should lead a UN Investigative panel to examine the violations of human rights against the Owerri Indigenous Peoples”

In response to his petitions which was widely applauded by well meaning Nigerians, the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, directed the Inspector General of Police, to commence investigation into the death of Master Somtochuwku Ibeanusi, who lost his life when the market was demolished

“The Commission has written a letter to the Inspector General of Police to cause a thorough investigation into the allegations raised over the death of Somtochuwku Ibeanusi and avail the Commission with a report. You shall be updated on further development on the matter in due course” part of the letter to Dr. Njemanze signed by Izimah Ogoma, Executive Secretary, NHRC stated.


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