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Fear grips Owerri residents – As tension mounts over demolition of Eke-Ukwu Owerri

Ripples of the demolition of Eke Ukwu Owerri market last weekend are yet to fade as clashes reportedly continued between youths of Owerri and those of Ohaji/Egbema area accused of having aided the government to carry out the demolition of the market.
Two persons were feared dead in Wednesday’s clash, setting off pandemonium in the entire capital city as people scampered for cover from police tear gas and the rampaging youths.
Shops closed abruptly and motorist made U-turns while pedestrians took to their heels, running to their respective homes.
Unconfirmed reports said that Wednesday’s fracas erupted when some youths confronted others alleged to be looting wares abandoned by traders caught up by Saturday’s demolition that led to the death of a 10-year-old boy, Somtochukwu Ibeanusi, and others injured.
The alleged looters were said to have stood their grounds, boasting that they were government agents.
The resultant mayhem spilled over to Ama J.K., Bank Road, Post Office and the Control Post areas in the city as youths reportedly harassed vehicles coming into Owerri from Port-Harcourt Road and World Bank.
An account has it that security operators intercepted a bus load of youths with deadly weapons on reprisal attack against the youths in Owerri.
Our reporter had observed earlier that brisk trading was going on as faceless persons carted away wares from the rubble of the demolished market.
Items included goods buried in the rubble but were dug up as the bulldozers progressed in the demolition exercise.
Steel doors and electrical appliances in the demolished stalls were being carted away by unknown persons in wheel barrows and trucks.
Eke Ukwu, the ancestral market of Owerre Nchi-Ise (Core Owerri indigenes) is said to have existed for more than 200 years, being the biggest in the city  and having a face value of more than N60 billion.
The Imo State government relocated the market to a site at Mbaitoli LGA, two local governments away from the Municipal, a move resisted in court by Owerri indigenes.
At a press conference in Abuja, a group claiming to be Owerri indigenes stated that the government defied a court order to stay action on the demolition.
Government, however, said that the operation was smooth and traders were happy.
The government also claimed that adequate notice was given to the traders to relocate but all entreaties to them to move fell on deaf ears.

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