Residents of Ugwuoba in Enugu State, as well as people residing in Amansea and Awka, the capital of Anambra State, have sent a save our souls (SOS) message to the two governors of the states over what they described as attempts by some hoodlums and kidnappers operating at the Ugwuoba Cattle Market in Oji River council area to wipe them out of their lands.
The residents, who have been protesting against the level of illicit drugs transactions going on in the market, said the act has fuelled frequent kidnapping, rape and prostitution in the neighbourhoods.
Lamenting on their harassment, people living in the border communities said they now live in the mercy of criminals hiding in the large market to perpetuate atrocities against them.
They accused the state governors of abandoning them because of the profit they are making from the market.
Mrs Obiageli Chukwudi, a food vendor in Amansea, told this newspaper’s correspondent that they are living in fear because of the constant invasion of their shops by criminals trading in illicit drugs around the cattle market.
“They are everywhere. They can even come in the afternoon, eat free food and also collect our money. I can’t go anywhere because I have no other place to go. I have been living here for over 40 years because my late husband lived here,” the poor widow said.
Narrating her ordeal, Ifeyinwa Uba, who sells cosmetics and baby’s clothes at Ugwuoba, accused the state governors of allowing kidnappers and rapists to roam the area without consequence.
“Do you think we have government? We have been crying to government to rescue us from all these people. If you go down their, you will see them taking mkpuru mmiri (crystal methamphetamine), Igbo (marijuana), cocaine and all sorts of drugs. Government just allowed them to do anything they like,” Ifeyinwa said.
Inside the cattle market are shanties, slumps, and make-up shifts for brothels where sex workers sell their body for as little as ₦2000.
Interrogating a cattle owner who identified himself as Alhaji Musa Shettima, he said life has been a hell for them as the market had already turned to a den of kidnappers and illicit drugs traders.
He pointed at an area called Centre of Sin where kidnappers and drug peddlers frequently operate, warning against going there as “anything can happen.”
He stated that many people have lost their lives in the market as a result of influence of hard drugs.
“This place has not been easy for us because kidnappers and criminals from Lokpanta have settled here. They have guns for robbing us. Governments of Enugu and Anambra states should come and save us from these hoodlums,” he pleaded.
Calls to the security aides of both governors were left unattended as at the time of filling this report, meanwhile a division police office in the area said series of arrests had been made, promising that more would be made.