OWERRI/Nigeria: There was a mixture of uproar, anguish and pandemonium, Saturday 26 August, 2917 in Owerri, capital of Imo State, following the demolition of ancient, but popular and massive Ekeukwu -Owere market, situated at the epicentre of ever- busy Douglas Road in the capital city.
Security was tight as a combined team of Army, police, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, among other security personnel, patrolled the area, even as many traders, who could not remove their wares, bemoaned their fate.
Most of the traders, who expected that the Saturday deadline would be postponed, chorused their pain and anguish as the bulldozers roared in destructive zest.
Imo State Commissioner of Police, Chris Ezike, the Deputy Chief of Staff, Government House, Owerri, Kingsley Uju, an Engineer, among other officials, supervised the demolition exercise, which began early in the morning.
In a statement on Friday, by the Deputy Chief of Staff, Government House, Owerri/ Chairman, Imo Bureau of Lands, Survey and Urban Development, Kingsley Uju, the government had given both the traders and street hawkers from Friday, August 25 through Saturday, August 26, 2017, to remove their wares and relocate to two emergency markets.
The emergency markets were located at borders of Egbeada, Mbaitoli /Owerri West Local Councils, and Naze, Owerri North Local Council, to enable road rehabilitation work along Douglas Road and adjoining streets, as well as, the construction of ultra modern school.
But in a sudden rethink, the government commenced demolition before the 12 midnight deadline could elapse, thus taking the traders by surprise with much damage to their wares.
Bus drivers loading passengers along the same street, were also given the Saturday deadline to relocate to designated motor parks.
Army personnel and other security personnel were drafted immediately to secure life and property in the area, even as adjoining Ama Hausa market situated along the same road, was demolished.
And no sooner had the demolition started than reports of killing of young toddler started trending on the social media, thereby creating panic and apprehension.
Governor Okorocha in a statement by his chief press secretary, Sam Onwuemeodo, denied that there was any casualty, stressing that the reports were handiworks of detractors and those averse to good planning.