By Chidi Nkwopara, OWERRI
Three people were feared killed, when Imo State Government commenced the controversial demolition of the Ekeukwu Owerri ancestral market yesterday.
Of the three deceased, Sunday Vanguard was able to identify one – 10-year old Somtochukwu Ibeanusi.
Some of the other victims of the state government’s onslaught included, but were not limited to, Leonard Ebubeagu Osuji, Sebastian Oparaku and Ifeanyi Osuji.
Vanguard reporter, Chinonso Alozie, who was at the scene to cover the event, was not spared, as he received severe beating when the thugs discovered that he was a staff of Vanguard.
Sunday Vanguard gathered that Leonard was shot in the leg, while Sebastian and Ifeanyi were shot in the head and waist, respectively.
Confirming the names of the three wounded citizens, the Village Head of Amawom, Owerri municipal, Chief Dennis Dike, said “they were quickly rushed to the Federal Medical Centre, Owerri, for the needed attention”.
According to Chief Dike, “a stray bullet hit Sebastian Oparaku in his parlour”.
In his own reaction, the Catholic Archbishop of Owerri Ecclesiastical Province, His Grace, Dr. Anthony J. V. Obinna, described the killing and maiming of the citizenry as most devastating.
“How can the government justify the killing of a promising young boy, because it wants to relocate Ekeukwu Owerri? This is most devastating”, Archbishop Obinna said.
The Archbishop recalled that “we didn’t have this type of senseless killing in this state during the military regime and if it is happening in a democracy, then something has seriously gone wrong somewhere.”
Sunday Vanguard gathered that over 500 deadly cultists were recruited by the state government, to not only clampdown on unarmed Owerri indigenes, but to also ensure that the market was destroyed.
VANGUARD REPORTER ATTACKED
Meanwhile, our reporter, Chinonso Alozie, who was at the scene yesterday to cover the destruction of the market, was attacked by the thugs, alleged to have been recruited officially.
Giving a graphic account of his ordeal, Alozie said he received the beating of his life when he refused to handover his i-Pad to one of the thugs.
“I identified myself as a Vanguard reporter on duty. He ordered me to handover my i-Pad to him. I got the beating of my life when I refused to obey him.
“Over 20 young boys pounced on me. Some of them hit me severally with cudgels and anything they laid their hands on. They took periodic instructions from a government official. I was saved by a policeman who came to the scene of the molestation. He retrieved my i-Pad from the boys and gave it back to me”, Alozie recounted with grief.
A subsisting court injunction is said to have forbade the state government from going ahead with the destruction of the market.
The state government official refused entreaties for comments.