Tensions escalated at Ogbete Market in Enugu as clashes between traders and law enforcement authorities resulted in the loss of three lives on Wednesday. The protests were sparked by the State Government’s decision to close several shops and offices in response to the illegal sit-at-home order imposed by a faction of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
The Enugu State Government had issued a ban on the sit-at-home order and had vowed to shut down businesses that failed to open on Monday. As a consequence, some shops and offices in the market, including those belonging to the Ogbete Market Amalgamated Traders Association (OMATA), were sealed.
In a bid to show solidarity with their fellow traders, those whose businesses were affected decided to protest, demanding the reopening of their shops. The situation took a violent turn when some protesters targeted and destroyed billboards of Governor Peter Mbah.
The authorities attempted to disperse the protesters, but the situation worsened when shots were fired by the police, resulting in the unfortunate deaths of three individuals, one of whom was a woman.
The protest quickly spread, leading to road blockades on major routes like Okpara Avenue and Ogui Road, causing panic among motorists and traders alike. The protesters chanted anti-government slogans and set up burnfires in the middle of the roads.
Reacting to the incident, the spokesman for the state police command, Daniel Ndukwe, expressed that the protest had initially been peaceful but was later hijacked by certain elements. He stated that the traders whose shops were sealed attempted to coerce others into closing their businesses in solidarity.
The Enugu State Police Commissioner ordered a full-scale investigation into the incident. Ndukwe urged citizens and traders to express their grievances through approved channels and maintain peace and cooperation during the ongoing investigation.
The loss of lives during the protest has deeply saddened the community, and authorities are now working towards restoring calm and normalcy in the area. Further updates on the investigation and the overall situation will be communicated as soon as possible.