By Sunny Nwankwo, Aba
Angry traders of the popular Umuahia Timber Market located at the Ahiaeke (axis of Umuahia-Ikot Ekpene Expressway), Umuahia North Local Government Area Abia State on Monday set ablaze office of the Abia State Vigilante Service (AVGS) aka “Bakassi Boys” situated within the market.
Our correspondent gathered that the burning of the AVGS office was in retaliation to the reported killing of a trader in the market in the early hours of Monday by the vigilante personnel whose name was yet to be ascertained at the time of filing the report.
It was gathered that save from the efforts of some borehole owners who allowed their water to be used to attack the fire, the incident which had caused pandemonium in the market would have been more disastrous as the flame of the fire had started engulfing other shops within the area.
Some of the traders who spoke anonymously told our correspondent that told our correspondent that the traders resorted to burning the vigilante office after the vigilante member who in the midst of a misunderstanding between the traders and members of the Abia State Board of Internal Revenue Service (ABIRS) that sealed shops of the traders for allegedly defaulting in the payment of their annual N18, 000 stallage fees, reportedly shot dead one person and injuring many in his attempt to fire into the air to scare the traders away.
The body of the dead was said to have been deposited at the morgue while others wounded were receiving treatment at undisclosed hospitals in the state capital.
When contacted, the State Commandant of the AVGS, Mr. Idika denied the killing of any trader and bemoaned the traders for setting ablaze their office and an operational van of the state security outfit.
Speaking in the defence of the said personnel, Idika said that the official of the security service shot into the air as a last resort to escape the mob who attempted to snatch the gun from the personnel in the heat of an incident between the traders and the officials of the ABIRS at the Timber Market.
“We have gone round the entire hospitals in Umuahia including Federal Medical Center (FMC), there was no case of gunshot injured patients or dead corpse from Timber Shed in the facilities that we visited.”
Idika added that no arrest at the time of the telephone interview has been arrested; adding that those involved the burning of their office at the Timber Shed will be made to face the full weight of the law.
The Police Public Relations Officer, SP Geoffrey Ogbonna in a telephone interview confirmed that some traders were injured, but also refuted the claims of death any trader.