Nigeria: Butchers in Abia Stage Peaceful Protest Amid Alleged Threats of Eviction
By Ahmad Hadizat Omayoza, Mamos Nigeria
In Umuahia, Abia State, a group of butchers took to the streets on Thursday to peacefully protest against an alleged threat of eviction from a piece of land they claim was granted to them by the government in 1994. The Chairman of the Umuahia Butchers Association, Comrade Ngozi Williams, addressed the media during the protest, asserting that the land, situated at Mgbarakuma/Amuzu in Ubakala, Umuahia South Local Government Area, was initially provided to them through the efforts of a former Military Administrator, Col. Ike Nwosu, and former Minister for Agriculture, Adamu Shiroma.
According to Williams, the butchers had been operating on the land without issues until some individuals, including a traditional ruler and a high-ranking government official, contested ownership and demanded their eviction. These individuals purportedly claimed that the government had sold or transferred the land to them, insisting that the butchers should pay revenue directly to the official rather than the government.
Vice Chairman Chief Noah Uwalaka added that the government official asserted that the previous administration leased the abattoir to him for 25 years and demanded direct revenue payments from the butchers. The butchers, who had been complying with a joint revenue payment to the State and Local Government Area, sought Governor Alex Otti’s intervention, expressing confidence in his ability to address the situation.
Former Chairman Ebere Akandu emphasized that the government had settled the landowners before relocating the butchers in 1994. He urged the Governor to swiftly intervene, highlighting their efforts to communicate the issue to the Ministry of Agriculture.
In response to the accusations, a Special Adviser to the Governor on Security, Commander MacDonald Ubah (retd), denied any threat or plot to evict the butchers, labeling the allegations as spurious and mischievous. Ubah emphasized the government’s commitment to improving hygiene conditions at the abattoir and dismissed the butchers’ claims as driven by selfish interests.
The Security Adviser challenged the butchers to disclose who they were paying revenue to, stating that the government had banned revenue collection in markets and parks since its inception. He questioned the necessity for resistance against fencing and improving the hygiene of the abattoir, emphasizing the government’s goal to develop the state and enhance security.
As the situation unfolds, the butchers’ plea for intervention underscores the complexity of land disputes and economic interests in the region.