- Traders shutdown shops in Onitsha, Ekwulobia
- We’ll resist transfer of insurgents to Calabar, says assembly
Indications have emerged that the controversies surrounding the transfer of 47 Boko Haram suspects to Ekwulobia prisons in Anambra State may soon give way following a meeting held by the state Governor, Chief Willie Obiano and a seven-man delegation from Abuja on Wednesday at his lodge in Awka.
The delegation came from the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) in Abuja.
The meeting which took place at the instance of the presidency was as a result of a passionate appeal by Obiano to the presidency, endless protests and wide agitations by traders, the South-east Governor’s Forum, Ohanaeze Ndi Igbo, Aka Ikenga, members of Christian Association of Nigerian (CAN) Anambra State chapter, traditional rulers, Association of town unions, civil society groups and others across the South-east region against the transfer of the dreaded inmates from Chad to Ekwulobia.
The governor said after the meeting that the deliberations between his team and that from the presidency were successful even as he expressed optimism that the matter would be resolved soon.
Those in the governor’s team included the Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Alfred Nnaemeka Achebe, the Igwe of Umuoji, Igwe Cyril Enweze, the Catholic Bishop of Awka, Most Rev. Paulinus Ezeokafor, the Anglican Bishop of Awka, Rt. Rev. Dr. Alex Ibezim, the Anambra State Chairman of CAN, Theo Okpala, Coordinator, South-east Traders’ Association, Okwudili Ezenwankwo, National President of Anambra Association of Town Unions (ASATU), Dr. Jude Okolo, among others.
The governor called on the Anambra people to maintain the peace and desist from acts that might lead to the disruption of the harmonious atmosphere that has enveloped the state in the past one year.
Meanwhile, Markets in Anambra State were shutdown thursday as traders sustained their protests against the relocation of Boko Haram prisoners to Ekwulobia prison in the state.
Trading activities were paralysed in major markets in Onitsha, Nnewi and Ekwulobia where traders carried placards at the Ekwulobia Stadium denouncing the relocation.
The President of Association of Anambra Amalgamated Traders Association (ASMTA) who also coordinates same in the South-east, Okwudili Ezenwankwo, said the protests would continue until the prisoners are relocated out of the entire South-east, adding that traders in Ebonyi, Enugu and Umuahia joined today and that their colleagues in Aba and Owerri would participate today.
Meanwhile, the Speaker of the Cross River State House of Assembly, Mr. John Lebo, yesterday said the state would resist any attempt to send Boko Haram suspects to prison facilities in the state.
Lebo said this in Calabar during his maiden press briefing.
The Speaker, who was reacting to a question on the recent public outcry over the relocation of Boko Haram suspects to a prison facility in Anambra State, said the federal government should not contemplate sending Boko Haram suspects to any prison facility in Cross River State.
He said emphatically that the state could not accommodate the suspects.
There are no fewer than six prisons in different locations in the state. They are in Calabar, Adim, Obubra, Ogoja and Obudu.
Lebo said, “We will resist relocation of Boko Haram suspects to Calabar Prisons or any other one in the state.”
He reiterated the Assembly’s commitment towards making good laws that would impact positively on the lives of the citizens.
Lebo, who represents Abi State Constituency in the House, also emphasised the need for a robust relationship between the legislature and the executive, which, he believed, would help in deepening democracy in the country.
He also dismissed insinuations in some quarters that the 8th Assembly would be a rubber-stamp legislature, noting that the best way to achieve desired results was by maintaining a harmonious relationship with all arms of government.
“The legislature under my watch in Cross River will make laws that will bring transformation to our state and this cannot be achieved by fighting the executive. The best way to maintain the integrity of the House is to maintain the history of synergy and performance, which is a common factor in Cross River State,” he said.