At least 20 traders in the Market Square in Owerri, Imo state are presently counting their losses after personnel of the Nigerian Army and the police, aided by hoodlums allegedly looted their shops.
The looting, according to the traders, took place while the security agencies were searching for the killers of Ahmed Gulak, former adviser to Ex-President Goodluck Jonathan.
Gulak, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), was shot dead on Saturday evening after he, according to the police, left his hotel without his security details.
Military personnel aided by hoodlums of “northern extraction”, after the incident, mobilised to the market square and “looted wantonly in revenge,” traders now allege.
“The Northerners living around Enyiogugu backed by military men, in the name of serving as informants to aid the arrest of the killers, went from one big shop to the other as they looted and packed away the goods. They prevented people from taking videos and photos,” one of the traders told Sahara Reporters.
The affected traders include; George Ndulaka, who lost assorted drinks; Frank Akubueze also lost assorted drinks and his restaurant; Chidozie Njoku had his assorted foodstuffs, fridge and generator carted away.
Meanwhile, Crescentia Nwahuckwu lost bags of rice, many cartons of noodles, provisions and cartons of wines and assorted drinks. Others who lost drinks were; John Akushie and Chukwudi Nwagwu.
John Opara and Onyinyechi Opara lost power generator sets, their refrigerators and their drinks while Livinus Anufuro lost assorted electrical and electronic items.
A civic group also, the International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law, on June 2, wrote a petition to the Inspector General of Police, the Chairman of the Police Service Commission and the Imo State Commissioner of Police, detailing the plight of the affected traders.
“Contrary to the statements of the Imo State Police Command, a lorry loaded with onions from northern Nigeria and moving from Umuahia to Obowo and Ahiara was waylaid at Enyiogugu Market Square in Aboh-Mbaise by aggrieved violent citizens leading to passersby, including church goers and returnees and some Okada riders, etc. scrambling for their share of the loot.
“In reprisal, following phone calls by some northern Muslim civilians, soldiers stormed the scene and opened fire in the crowded Market Square and shot indiscriminately and in the end, scores of unarmed citizens were killed or injured. With the killing of Mr. Gulak, security agencies including the Imo State Police Command turned around and controversially linked the incident to the assassination and labelled the slain and maimed victims as ‘Eastern Security Network (ESN)’ hoodlums that killed Gulak”
“This was even after the violent deviants that waylaid the lorry-load of onions had left the scene. Cars displayed by the police as ‘operational exhibits belonging to the ESN hoodlums’ are said to be those belonging to motorists using the route,” the group said, while calling for detailed police investigation into the incident.