Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha ordered the demolition of a market that turned fatal.
The girl crying her eyes out, blood splattered shirt and face in one picture. In the other, she stoops to stop the blood from gushing off the lifeless body of a boy—probably her younger sibling.
Her head is on his chest as he lay in a pool of his own blood. He is 10 years of age.
Around her is wailing and tears.
She cries into him because at this point, it's all she can really afford to do.
There’s agony in the images. You could almost touch the pain here.
What happened in Owerri a couple of hours ago?
According to information available in the public domain, last Saturday August 26, 2017, bulldozers and backhoes moved into the Eke-Ukwu Owerri market as traders scampered for safety.
It was fashioned out as a demolition job. But it would soon turn fatal.
The traders were occupying the space illegally, said the Imo State government. They had been asked to leave the space and relocate to some other market space. But they stayed on defiantly; ignoring several warnings.
According to Space for Change, a civil society organization, “a horde of armed security operatives, acting on the orders of the Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, stormed Eke-Ukwu Owerri market, and forcefully evicted the traders, demolished their shops and destroyed wares worth millions of naira.
“Security operatives, specifically, military men from the 34 Artillery Brigade, Obinze, deployed to maintain law and order during the forceful demolition of the market, shot indiscriminately into the air to prevent any resistance to the demolitions.
“In the process, operatives allegedly shot a 10-year-old boy, Somtochukwu Ibeanusi, who was reportedly trying to assist his parents to evacuate wares trapped inside their shop. A number of Owerri natives who dared to resist the demolitions were shot at, killing two persons, while injuring three others..”
Isaiah Ibeanusi, father of the slain Somtochukwu, said; “My 10-year-old son and his sister were religiously carrying out my instructions of moving our wares to a safe place.
“I went looking for the children I left behind. Behold, I spotted Somtochukwu at Mbaise Road, where he was lying in a pool of his blood. I picked him up and rushed him to FMC, where a doctor on duty confirmed him dead.”
Ibeanusi continued: “I am a native of Umudim, Nnewi, Anambra State. How can I tell this horrible story to my people that my son was shot in his head for committing no known crime? I am really devastated.”
The Imo State government led by Governor Owelle Rochas Okorocha, has been mum through it all.
The Governor certainly ordered the demolition of the market. But strangely, he’s said nothing as the gruesome images have made their way round the social and mainstream media.
Who killed Somtochukwu Ibeanusi?
It’s trite that as we seek to make our cities look better and more functional, we’ve got to do so with a human face. If Eke-Okwu market was in the way of development, there has to be a better way of evicting traders than deploying policemen armed with guns to go shoot sporadically in a densely populated space.
ALSO READ: 3 die in market protest
Who gave the order? As the State’s Commander-In-Chief, Okorocha has to carry the can for the deaths and sorrow. And he’s got to speak up and clearly state his part in this whole tragedy.
A tragedy that was avoidable.
Like the police officers who pulled the trigger just because they could, Okorocha has got blood on his hands now—including the blood of a 10-year-old.
The ‘My people, my people’ crooner has now turned the nozzle on the people whose security and safety should be the primary purpose of his government.
He’s got to really come clean now. He's got a lot of explaining to do.