New Telegraph

Crisis Rocks Aba’s Biggest Shoemakers Market, One Death

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The information available to New Telegraph has it that power and leadership tussle at the Umuihelegbu Industrial Shoemakers Market, Aba, Abia State has led to the death of a young security man.

Abia State Police Command confirmed the killing of a young security man on duty working for the newly formed Umuehilegbu Industrial Market Shoemakers Association.

Geoffrey Ogbonna, the Command’s PPRO, confirmed the incident to newsmen on Thursday while answering questions on the matter.

“There was an incident that occurred at Umuehilegbu Industrial market on Tuesday where an unidentified person was shot dead by unknown person(s) around 8: 00 pm Tuesday.

“As a result, some shops were set ablaze by an angry mob. Police have waded in with the view to restoring normalcy and apprehending the culprits.”

But a source who pleaded anonymity for security purposes at the Umuehilegbu Industrial Market told our correspondent that the killing was the result of a power tussle.

He said that Umuehilegbu Industrial Market Shoemakers wanted to be separated from other leather workers in the market.

“So they formed an association and conducted an election and enthroned a chairman in the person of Chief Ariwodo.

“But that did not go down well with former leaders of the group who wanted the shoemakers to be together with the other leather workers in the value chain for easy manipulation.

“That was how those former leaders began to terrorize and intimidate the newly formed shoemakers association and its member.

“And on Tuesday, May 23, at about 8: 00 pm when the traders had all gone home, the former leaders’ group came and shot dead one security man working for the association’s members.

“The most painful thing about this young man’s death is that his wife just gave birth three days ago”, he said.

According to the source, on Wednesday evening he saw a convoy of over ten Hilux Police Vans carrying Rapid Response Squad men and normal Policemen all armed.

He said that the policemen entered the market to collect the corpse of the murdered security man but were not allowed to take the corpse.

“The Policemen wanted to collect the corpse of the murdered security man working for the newly formed Umuehilegbu Industrial Market Shoemakers Association.

“But the dead man’s family and the leaders of the association fearing that the corpse which had become evidence will be disposed of and the matter quashed, refused to hand it over to the Police.

“They rather dressed the dead man up, wore his shoes and cap, and set him on a motorcycle in-between the rider and another man and moved him out of the market.”

The source added that the killing of the innocent young security man angered the shoemakers further resulting in protests in Aba by the shoemakers.

He said that after the protest which the Police were aware of but did not act on, some unidentified persons went and burnt the shops of the group that allegedly killed the man.

According to him, the unknown persons also burnt the residences of the group who allegedly killed the security man.

Every effort made to reach the leaders of the groups failed, but further investigation by New Telegraph revealed that on the 9th of May 2023, a newly elected executive of the market was sworn in for the first time in more than 13 good years.

It was gathered that for 13 years they have been in court with both the state government and the Osisioma Ngwa Local Government Area against what they termed imposition of leadership in the market.

Sources told our reporter that the shoemakers recently won the case and went ahead to elect their own executive to administer their affairs within the market before the recent ugly event.

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