By Ugochukwu Alaribe, UMUAHIA
There was tension at the Umuchieze cattle market in Umunneochi council area of Abia State, yesterday, as cattle dealers blocked the Enugu –Port Harcourt expressway over alleged killing of a herdsman and some cows.
Suspected gunmen were alleged to have invaded an area where the herdsmen rear their cows and killed a herder and some cows. The Abia State government had last week demolished suspected criminal hideouts at the cattle market.
The protesters made bonfires and used trailers to barricade both lanes of the expressway. The cattle dealers urged the federal government to come to their aid.
However,the situation caused heavy traffic build up in the area as over 200 motorists and passengers were stranded.
Attempts by some soldiers and Policemen to clear the barricade failed as the protesting youths added some big sticks to the bonfire. They later cleared a small part of the barricade to allow a military patrol van drive through the area.
One of the stranded motorists who was on his way to Enugu told Vanguard that they had to turn back to Okigwe junction and diverted to the Uturu – Akaeze road from where they got back to Ishiagu junction on the expressway.
He said: “We were in a bus on the way to Enugu. When we got to Lokpanta, some people on the roadside waved at us shouting ‘no road, no road’. As we approached the cattle market, there was a heavy traffic build up with 200 vehicles. We had to turn back to Okigwe, at Ihube junction to the Uturu – Akaeze road from where we got toIshiagu junction,Ebonyi State, on the expressway. The detour is a distance of approximately over 40 kilometers. All the stranded travelers had to take this route to get to Enugu.”
Efforts to get the reaction of the Police Public Relations Officer,Abia State Command,SP Geoffrey Ogbonna, was not successful as he did not respond to text messages sent to his handset.