Traditional rulers and clergymen yesterday led traders and other residents of Ekwulobia in Aguata Local Government Area of Anambra State in a mass protest to paralyse business and social activities over the purported transfer of 47 Boko Haram suspects to the Aguata Prison.
As early as 7.30am, the protesters, including the aged, marched on along major roads and streets in the town to express their rejection of the Federal Government’s action.
The Council Chairman, Mr. Tony Umeoji, said the transfer of the Boko Haram prisoners to the place was politically motivated and an attempt to disrupt the development of the Anambra and the South-East zone.
His words: “I must tell you that this development will chase away intending investors to Anambra State thereby setting back the wheel of progress of the state”
“It is a situation that calls for concern because of the apprehension and restiveness among the people of Ekwulobia. The people are scared and there is a general sense of insecurity”.
“The Ekwulobia Prison has a minimum capacity and facility for such high profile in mates. The prison is so bedded and there are already 133 in mates and you are adding another 43 in mates of the Boko Haram prisoners. That is too much”, he said.
A lawmaker representing Aguata II Constituency, Mr. Ikem Uzoezie, appealed to the authorities and President Muhammadu Buhari to relocate the Boko Haram inmates to a prison with maximum capacity and facility.
He said the state House of Assembly when it reconvenes, would deliberate on the matter with a view to prevailing on the Presidency to redress the issue.
Catholic Bishop of Awka Diocese, His Lordship Most Rev. Paulinus Ezeokafor, condemned the alleged relocation by the Nigeria Prisons Service, NPS, of Boko Haram suspects from North-East prisons to Anambra State. He cautioned the protesting traders to allow reason to prevail.
Ezeokafor said such ugly attempt, if found to be true, could spell doom for the people of the South-East zone. He called on the state government to ensure that the mystery surrounding the alleged attempt was spelt out for all to see and understand, stressing that the situation if not properly handled could lead to a breakdown of law and order.
Also, the immediate Past National Chairman of All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, Chief Victor Umeh, expressed support for the protesting traders.
Umeh, who spoke at Neros Stadium, Nanka yesterday, during the 2015 grand finale of Awka Diocesan Priests’ Sports Competition, said it was most uncharitable for the Controller of Prisons or the Federal Government to send Boko Haram extremists caught in Borno State to Anambra Prisons.
He feared that the move would destabilise the peace experienced in the South-East and Anambra.
On his part, the Chief Executive of Capital Oil and Gas, Dr. Ifeanyi Ubah, has urged the protesters to thread with caution, noting that Nigeria Prisons Service had debunked the rumour.

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