Abia butchers reject govt’s plan to close abattoir

Butchers in Umuahia, the Abia State capital, have protested the alleged plans by the Abia State Government and its agents to sack them from their abattoir in Ubakala, Umuahia South LGA.

On Sunday, the butchers marched through Umuahia’s streets to the Government House, where they presented their complaints to Governor Alex Otti’s Chief Security Officer, Mr. Ken Nwosu, while holding signs reflecting their discontent.

“Some individuals, working with the host community and government officials, came and sent us out, fencing some sections of the abattoir and asking us to relocate to Umunneochi,” said Ngozi Williams, the president of the butchers.

“We have written to the state government, but have not received any response, instead, the person from inside Government House came and is driving us away. We did not relocate to Ubakala with any land, but land was given to us by the same state government.

“Instead, a government official has been harassing us with security agencies in the state, particularly with the state government security outfit, Operation Crush.”

The butchers pleaded to be allowed to remain in the area, having been relocated from Umuahia metropolis to their present site many years ago, stating, “The abattoir had been in Umuahia North for long a time before it was relocated to Umuahia South L.G.A, precisely Mgbarakuma/Amuzu Land in Ubakala, Umuahia South L.G.A by the then military administration led by Col. Ike Nwosu and the then Minister of Agriculture, Adamu Ciroma, in 1994.”

Addressing them, the Chief Security Officer to the state governor, Ken Nwosu, assured the butchers that having received their petition, the state government would immediately look into the matter.

He informed them however that matters concerning abattoirs and cemeteries, among others, belong to the local governments, but that because the Otti administration has a human face, it would investigate the matter and commended them for being peaceful in their protest.

When contacted, however, Navy Commander Macdonald Uba, Otti’s Special Adviser, claimed that the state government was only attempting to improve the abattoir’s hygienic conditions by fencing it, installing a security gate, providing water, and providing clean, contemporary meat slabs—as opposed to what the butchers had been using in an unclean environment.

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