Traders at Orlu Timber market have cried out over what they described as unlawful and unwarranted harassment, intimidation and infringement on their constitutional rights by soldiers stationed at the market, who have by their action deprived them of their means of livelihood.

Some of the traders who do not want their names in print told our reporter that they were barred by soldiers from entering their shops yesterday without prior notice. “At first, we thought it was because of the directive by the leadership of the market that we provide shelter for the soldiers at the checkpoint.

“We later realized that we are denied access to our shops because the market was locked the previously day in solidarity with the leader of Independent People of Biafra, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu who was re-arraigned in court on Monday, July 26.

They also wondered why the soldiers who have by their action deprived them of their right to fend for themselves and their families by engaging in legitimate businesses and transactions went that far.

They called on the governor, Senator Hope Uzodinma to come to their aid as the harassment and intimidation have become unbearable.

It was gathered that the aggrieved traders who converged in clusters discussing and protesting a distance away from gun wielding soldiers, who aside harassing and intimidating them, demanded explanation for their absence from the market on Monday July 26, the day Nnamdi Kanu was re-arraigned before an Abuja High Court.

Speaking with a former IMC  chairman of Orlu LGA, Hon Aloy Aloma yesterday, he confirmed that traders at Timber market were not allowed access to their shops.

At the time of filing this report, it was gathered that the traders at building material market in Orlu have been asked to open while their counterparts at the Timber market were warned never to come near their shops.According to the source, the reason for allowing the traders at building material market open was because they didn’t willingly close shops but were forced to do so by IPOB members.

The Imo State government had also earlier ordered workers in the state capital to be at their duty posts on that day or be sacked.

Reports available to our news desk indicate that “at all randomly positioned military checkpoints in the state, especially along Mgbidi and environ in Oru West LGA, passengers are ordered to disembark from their vehicles and walk along the road with their hands raised above their heads, as if in a war situation”.

Some keen watchers of political developments in the sate described what is presently happening in the state as  abnormal. 

According to them, Imo State has become something else in the past one year or thereabout. Markets in Onitsha, Aba, Enugu etc were closed on Monday July 26 and reopened on Tuesday without hassles. The traders were neither barred from entering their shops nor explain why they locked up their shops. Why has Imo State become the lame duck that is always harassed, intimidated and traumatized? Who invited the soldiers and why? Is it possible that the soldiers are acting without the consent of the government. If so, what has the Hope Uzodinma led government done to show that it does not support such unlawful denial and deprivation of people’s right of expression”. “With what the soldiers are doing now, it is obvious that tension is gradually building up again around the Orlu axis and may snow ball into something else if the situation is not properly handled”.  

“What concerns the government and the army if traders who are not on their payroll decide to lock the market for as long as they want? Which offence did they commit by locking their shops?”