The Foundation for Environmental Rights, Advocacy and Development, FENRAD, a leading human and environmental rights advocacy group in Abia State, expresses sadness following the discovery of some 20 decapitated and 50 other decomposing human bodies around Lokpanta cattle market in Abia State.
What an infamy that the market built to promote cattle and foodstuffs enterprise was turned into a den of hostage takers who run a kidnapping and abduction industry that has thrived for decades now!
FENRAD is aware of the gruesome activities of these faceless gangs which had been extended from Lokpanta and Umunneochi coordinates to Ihube, Uturu, Okigwe and Isuikwuato axes. A previous release from the Foundation urged the then state government (of Abia) to end the kidnapping of Abia State University, ABSU students and lecturers which became an industry following the 2020 lockdown.
The bigger question now is: if this number of headless and lifeless humans, likely Abia indigenes and others, was found only recently, how many more have been killed in the intervening years following the lockdown when this menace began to rear its ugly head or the years before?
The Foundation recalls the experience of His Eminence Samuel Kanu, Prelate of Methodist Church, Nigeria who was abducted alongside Denis Mark, the Bishop of Owerri, then the Prelate’s chaplain. Upon release, the Prelate had narrated his ordeal and told newsmen that his abductees were Fulfulde-speaking herdsmen. Again, local intelligence has it that some natives, working in cahoots with these herdsmen, provide information on some victims and are beneficiaries of this trade in abduction.
What is deeply worrying about the whole development is that within the Lokpanta and Umunneochi radius are military and police checkpoints, yet citizens cannot travel through the Enugu-Port Harcourt road in peace. It should be recalled that sometime last year, angered by the growing inability of these security agencies to check this menace, Umunneochi youth threatened to sack the military. There is now need to protect Abia forest margins, as these coordinates may be hosting killer herdsmen.
It is on this note that the Foundation salutes the bold step taken by Governor Alex Otti, CFR insisting that the Lokpanta market be a daily market and not serve as an encampment or brothels where (who knows?) forced organ harvesting and other illicit trades are carried out.
It is a shame that some anarchists are citing irredentism or forced removal of the Hausa community in Abia just to demarket the state government. This should not be condoned. There is no where in the world markets serve as settlements or a base for hoodlums. The fact that the presence of heavy-duty trucks by the roadside slows traffic on the road is another unacceptable thing that must not be seen on any expressway.
Lastly, having commended this bold and salutary move by the state governor, the Foundation calls on all traders to vacate the market as there are lots of residential areas still habitable in Abia State. That fact that the killings and decapitation happened and were not reported, neither by the traders nor market occupants, only leaves much to be desired.
We cannot have a concentration camp in the name of market anywhere in Abia. Enough.
Comrade Nelson Nnanna Nwafor
Foundation for Environmental Rights, Advocacy & Development (FENRAD Nigeria