• Thursday, June 13, 2024
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Abia community rejects government’s proposed cattle market

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The people of Asa in Ukwa West Local Government Area of Abia State have rejected the state government’s proposed cattle market in Obehie, noting that they do not have land for such a project.

They argued that Ukwa West LGA has the smallest landmass in Abia and as the only oil producing area in the state, a substantial landmass is interspersed with oil and gas pipelines, such that a small patch of land is left out for agricultural activities, from which the people eke a living.

They instead urged Governor Okezie Ikpeazu to relocate the market to his Umuobiakwa community in Obingwa Local Government Area, stressing that they do not have enough land for such business.

To show their resentment on the decision of Abia State government, the people on Friday, August 14, 2020, carried out a peaceful demonstration on Aba-PorthHarcourt expressway, which caused gridlock on the busy road.

The demonstrators brandished placards with messages such as, “Take the cattle market to Umuobiakwa Obingwa (Gov Ikpeazu’s village); “Fulani Herdsmen are destroying our farms on daily basis”. “Ukwa needs government protection not cattle market”; “Site the cattle market at Umuobiakwa based on its proximity to Aba”, among others.

Onwubiko Dike, president general, Asa Development Union (ADU), in company of IK Ajuzieogu, secretary general, ADU, explained that the essence of the peaceful demonstration is to make it clear that Ukwa people are not willing to give out their land for any cattle related business.

“Of course, it is in the public domain that the raging countrywide insecurity orchestrated by Fulani herdsmen has become a palpably recurrent decimal threatening national security.

“Already, the Fulani herdsmen are all over Ukwa West LGA, especially Owaza and Obiakpu communities perpetrating heinous crimes including kidnapping of our people and demanding ransom. Incidents of this ugly scenario have been well recorded in the diary of the Divisional Police Headquarters, Obehie-Asa.

“Ukwa land should not be mortgaged for nasty, obnoxious, irrational, repugnant and unconscionable political interests. Cattle Market at Obehie is a political narcissism of the most bizarre order.

“Ukwa people totally reject this cold and callous political impunity of cattle market verging on a terribly mischievous and wickedly marooned power mongering.

“The rage of Asa Development Union is against the dying conscience of whoever is playing politics of cattle market to enslave and suffer the souls of innocent Ukwa people under absolutely false facade of development.

“Abia State Government should look elsewhere for cattle market as Ukwa land cannot accommodate the asphyxiating and anathematizing living conditions associated with such projects,” they said.

ADU notes that Ukwa West LGA has the smallest landmass in Abia and as the only oil producing area in the state, a substantial landmass is interspersed with oil and gas pipelines such that a small patch of land is left out for agricultural activities from which the people eke a living.

They stressed that the grave implication of public health challenges of zoonosis of Trypanosomiasis (a deadly protozoan sleeping sickness) outbreak as a result of cattle market will be a life threatening danger to their people and should not be contemplated.

According to ADU, the nuisance of Fulani herdsmen and their activities of maiming, raping, kidnapping, banditry and destruction of farm crops cannot be accommodated in Ukwa land. Hence, the hue and cry of Ukwa people.

ADU further observed that there is a groundswell of overarching uneasiness and disenchantment of Ukwa people with the worsening spectre of unbridled land acquisition vis-a-vis acquisition of nearly 10,000 hectares of Ukwa land for the proposed Enyimba Economic City that has culminated in the death of Nwamaka Ogbuji of Ugwuati-Asa on Wednesday, January 15 2020.

“Consequently, the vexation issue of cattle Market at Obehie-Asa is being perceived as an aggravated assault on Ukwa people by the present Abia State Government”.

Patience Azonwu, secretary, Asa Women Council, urged the Abia State Government to listen to Asa people and avoid bringing more trouble on a people that are already traumatized, by the destructive activities of Fulani herdsmen.

“Farming is our only source of income. Fulani cows have been destroying our farmlands. We farm mainly cassava. Before, we were known for producing quality garri. Today, garri is the costliest food item in our land, because we now buy from outside.

“This is why our women are saying that we don’t want these herdsmen. We feed our children with sales from our farm produce. So, bringing cattle market to us is unacceptable. It’ll add insult to our injury and we don’t want it”.

The people took journalists to the large parcel of land at Obehie-Asa, where the said cattle settlement /market approved, by Abia State Government for Fulani herdsmen and cows of large numbers were seen, moving uncontrollably within the area with few herders on ground.