The Civil Liberties Organization (CLO) is demanding investigation into alleged use of troops to effect the demolition of Ekeukwu Owerre Market by the Imo State Government in eastern Nigeria. Although it is urging the public not to do anything that will escalate the situation or change the narrative, it is also claiming there was loss of lives in the process. This is besides the hundreds of millions of Naira worth of property demolished according to a statement signed by CLO President, Uche Wisdom Durueke Esq. Describing it as an act of executive lawlessness that should be unacceptable to all who believe in democracy and rule of law, CLO is condemning the exercise without reservation, calling it invasion despite a subsisting court order restraining the governor from doing so.
The CLO claimed there was indeed use of soldiers by the Imo State Government in effecting the demolition exercise and that there was no basis for such. By our constitution, our soldiers are meant to protect the country from external aggression, the CLO argued, pointing out how the Police Force and Civil Defence Corp could have provided the security cover for the demolition exercise. The CLO rested its standpoint on the people’s rejection of the planned demolition and call for restraint on the part of the Government.
It added that the destruction of the market will badly affect the economy of Imo State as well as remaining cultural heritage of the Owerri people because the Ekeukwu Owerre market is, in its words, not just a thriving economic centre but also touches on the cultural right of the people. Listing the consequences of the demolition in terms of likely increase in socio-economic crimes in the city and its environ as those whose livelihood depended on the market have now been displaced without visible alternative, CLO insists that those responsible for the killings of the three innocent citizens are fished out and brought to justice and the families of those killed should be adequately compensated by the Imo State Government. The CLO calls on the Imo State Government to halt further demolition and develop a strategy of engaging a cross strata of the stakeholders on the subject matter for healing and finding sustainable and peaceful pathway to the issue.