A socio-political organization in Imo State, Imo Network Group, ING, is calling for justice on those injured or killed during the demolition of Eke-Ukwu Market in Owerri, Imo State.
The group condemned demolition exercise which resulted in the gruesome killing of 10-year-old Somtochukwu Ibeanusi. They described as insensitive the claim by Governor Rochas Okorocha, that no life was lost in the process.
In a statement released by ING on Wednesday, the group disclosed that it established that Ibeanusi died as a result of a stray bullet from “overzealous security agents” deployed to protect officials of the state during the market demolition.
The statement signed by the group’s Board of Trustees Chairman, Chinenye Samez; its Global Administrator, Francis Chilaka, and the Global Media Coordinator, Ejike Ikezuagu, reads:
“Since it has been duly confirmed that a life was lost during the demolition, we condemn in very strong terms the state government’s insensitivity, total disregard, and neglect for human life, as the government has publicly claimed that the demolition was peaceful and that no life was lost.
“In view of all the prevailing circumstances, ING hereby demands justice for late Somtochukwu Ibeanusi and others that were affected.”
ING lamented that the new site mapped out for the displaced traders was still under construction, while it called on the state House of Assembly to set up a commission of inquiry to establish if there was a standing court order against the demolition.
It insisted on the identity and prosecution of the security agent who pulled the trigger and recommends adequate compensation for the deceased’s family. It also said the House should prevail on the state Commissioner of Police to immediately release the deceased’s corpse to the family and commence impeachment proceedings against the governor if found to have disobeyed a court order.
Meanwhile, governor Okorocha has promised to immortalize late Somtochukwu Ibeanusi. According to his Chief Press Secretary, Sam Onwuemeodo, who issued a statement on Wednesday,
“Government has decided to honour Somtochukwu Ibeanusi, although the boy’s death was confusing because an action can’t be taking place on Douglas Road, and a person would die at Mbaise Road. No matter what happened, since that boy died within that period of liberation, the boy must be honoured. Owerri leaders are also mourning him; they wore black clothes even to Catholic and Anglican churches. If Owerri leaders can mourn a boy from Nnewi, Anambra State, that shows that there is something great about that boy.
The statement further stressed that the deceased was more important than any local market.
“That boy is more important than any Eke or Afor, Ekeukwu or Ekenta. So, Douglas Road and projects to be sited there will be named after the boy, Somtochukwu Ibeanusi. The projects will be named Somtochukwu and the road, Somtochukwu Road, in line with the way all of us are mourning that boy. I will not go back to deity again by naming it Ekeukwu Road. Imo State has gone past that level.”