• Police Read Riot Act
Butchers in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, yesterday protested over the alleged use of soldiers, policemen and other security agents to destroy their property, intimidate and harass them at various abattoirs in Ibadan, the state capital.
The butchers, in conjunction with Veteran Organisation for Human Rights Initiative (VOHRI), on the heel of the demolition of abattoirs at Bodija, also accused the government of intimidating and harassing butchers at Gbagi, Bodija, Iwo Road and Babarere markets.
They claimed that their members were harassed with soldiers and mobile policemen.
The butchers, who argued that a purported relocation order to butchers in Ibadan to relocate to Amosun Village did not emanate from Governor Abiola Ajimobi, said such order was the handiwork of some union leader leaders and members.
They said despite the fact that butchers in Ibadan rejected the relocation move, some people used soldiers, armed mobile policemen and other security agents to demolish slaughter slabs at Bodija Market, as well as invaded Gbagi Market and other slaughter slabs on Iwo Road and Babarere by forcing butchers to leave their locations.
The butchers said: “Some disgruntled elements who would always want to paint our listening governor in bad light disturbed the peace of butchers in Gbagi and Bodija markets on June 22 and destroyed our abattoir slabs at Bodija Market on June 23.
“The slaughter houses belonging to Alhaji Azeez Alagunfon and Biliaminu Eleshinmeta group were not affected by the police raid. This is a pointer to the lop-sidedness. The same drama occurred at Bodija, Iwo Road, Alarere and Babarere markets.
“The soldiers came with a motion ex-parte purported to have been sworn to at High Court II Registry on June 14 by Dr. (Mrs) Ibitoye Mofoluwake Moriyike of the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the state secretariat in Ibadan and served on unknown persons as defendants, but definitely not the butchers in Ibadan.
“A motion ex-parte got on June 14, which was supposed to have elapsed on June 21 and served on unknown defendants was used to intimidate and harass butchers. We view this as impunity of the highest order. This case is already in court for mention on June 27 (today).”
The butchers urged Ajimobi to “wade into this imbroglio to prevent disharmony and allow peace to reign in the state”.
Meanwhile, the Oyo State Police Command yesterday read the riot act to members of the state chapter of the National Butchers Union (NBU) who embarked on a violent protest against government’s relocation order.
Scores of people were said to have sustained severe injuries during the protest which caused hours of traffic gridlock in the city.
Police Commissioner Abiodun Odude warned the aggrieved butchers against continued violence.
The police chief wondered why the butchers held the state to ransom over a matter that could be amicably handled.
In a statement by police spokesman Adekunle Ajisebutu, a Superintendent of Police (SP), the command said while it recognised the group’s right to protest, such action should be within the ambit of the law of the land.
The statement said: “The police will not watch individuals or associations disrupt the peace currently being enjoyed in the state.
Therefore, it will not hesitate to deal ruthlessly with anyone or association whose activities in whatever guise are capable of causing a breakdown of law and order in any part of the state.”