Protests Cripple Businesses In Onitsha, Other Towns

BY SUNNY A. DAVID/AWKA
SERIES of protests yesterday grounded activities in the commercial city of Onitsha and other cities of Nnewi, Awka, Ekwulobia over the alledged order by the Federal Government to relocate Boko Haram convicts to Onitsha Prison and other prisons within the south east region.
The protesters, who took to the streets to register their displeasure over the development which led to the closure of markets, blocked Uga Junction, the major road connecting the state capital, Awka, with the famed commercial town of Onitsha, chanting war songs and brandishing placards expressing outright rejection of the alleged impending transfer of convicted and accused Boko Haram terrorists to the South-East.
They said bringing the prisoners to Anambra would radicalise the already existing prisoners in various cells and boost the activities of the extremist Islamic group, and vowed to resist any plans in any quarters to relocate the suspects as according to them, it is a ploy to attract invasion of South East by Boko Haram extremists.
A senior prison officer in Ekwuluobia prisons who pleaded anonymity confirmed the directive by the Presidency for the transfer of Boko Haram convicts to prisons in Anambra, saying that the convicts were being awaited.
Stakeholders in Anambra have condemned the move to relocate some of the Boko Haram convicts down to Onitsha and Ekwuluobia prisons in Anambra State.
Speaking to newsmen, Mr. Godwin Ezeemo , publisher of Orient Dailies frowned at the directive and said that such action was capable of causing chaos .
Mr. Ezeemo said that such directive was not in tandem with social reformation and peaceful coexistence as such mix up would pollute the mindset of those in prison who had committed civil offences and were awaiting trial either for sentences or release.
He said that the government should have made improvised prisons where only people with such like minds would be kept and placed under reformation to get them back to normal living.
According to him, mixing the extremists with the ordinary prisoners would portend more danger than they were trying to prevent,” In America such case was handled by placing the identified terrorists in a special cell and decision was taken on them.
Mr. Ezeemo called on the Federal Government to have a rethink on the decision and see that such decision would breed bad blood in the minds of the Igbos and avoid such actions that could lead to unrest in the country.
He suggested that the Federal Government should build prisons to handle such cases and if it must relocate the Boko Haram prisoners, nearby prisons are more suitable than coming down to the eastern part of the country where relative peace was being enjoyed.
Said he: “This action or directive of the Presidency leaves fears in minds of the people of the sincerity of the government wanting to have a unified and peaceful country”.