Traders in the Lokpanta cattle market in Umuchieze, Umunnochi LGA of Abia State, have said they are not involved in kidnappings, ritual killings, or prostitution.
The traders who spoke at the Lokpanta market, while addressing a cross-section of journalists, said it would be wrong to associate genuine traders in the market with criminal activities.
They expressed shock at wide media reports about the corpse discovery story and how the market was being linked with the crime.
The traders, whose press statement was read by Malam Buba Abdulahi, said they were not aware of unidentified corpses reported to have been discovered in forests around the market.
On the state government’s plans to make the Lokpanta cattle market a daily business area and to fence it, the traders said that they are ready to engage the Abia State government in dialogue to resolve the issues, but urged that they be given a listening ear by accommodating their requests.
The traders equally complained that a large number of their family members who live and do business in the area may find it difficult to run their trades from rented homes if the market is stopped from being a residential area.
They assured the Abia State government of their commitment to assist in exposing any suspected criminal in or around the market, as they had done in the past.
Malam Abdulahi, who said that they had been paying revenue to the state and local governments and even the host community, added that they also donated cows to the host community during the Christmas celebration.
They recalled how the Lokpanta market land, which measures 80 hectares, was given to them in January 2005 by the Abia State government, adding that the take-off of the market was even performed by the then Deputy Governor of Abia State, the late Dr Chima Nwafor.
While charging security agencies to go after suspected criminals around the area, the Lokpanta traders recalled how their leaders petitioned the Department of State Security (DSS) and the Nigerian Police in 2021 to rescue them from criminal elements tormenting them around the market area.
DAILY POST recalls that Governor Alex Otti disclosed on Sunday that security operatives discovered 70 unidentified corpses and other gory exhibits inside forests around the Lokpanta cattle market.
The governor, during the media briefing, also disclosed that his administration was determined to secure every part of the state against criminals, saying that there was no going back on his plans for a safe Abia.
But the Lokpanta traders, who said their membership was comprised of Hausa, Fulani, Yoruba, and Igbo, maintained that the corpses were not found inside the market.