* Mile 3 business operators in Port Harcourt cry out to governor over insecurity
By Favour Ichemati
Traders come to market the next day now in parts of Diobu, Port Harcourt, to find their warehouses empty, all the handiwaork of armed hoodlums. They also raid shops and business centres at will especially during closing hours. This has sent shock waves as business owners cry out for rescue, saying they cannot raise money to start again.
The targeted business operators and other residents in the Mile 3 area of Diobu in Port Harcourt have cried to Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State over new insecurity challenges. The operators include business men and women, shop owners, whole sellers, and retailers who have urged Gov Wike to come to their rescue.
The residents told newsmen on Thursday, October 11, 2018, that robbery and violence have now become a daily occurrence in the past one week when they said robbery has been excessive.
The dail light robberies seem to extend to Mile 2 area especially Okija Street and offshoot where shooting scared motorists and mechanics away Wednesday evening when businesses were about to close.
Eye witness account said the robbers began snatching people things as shops were closing, leading to a stampede where some motorists abandoned their cars while fleeing on foot.
In Mile 3, the Bishop Okoye area seems to be worst hit, according to residents who talked to newsmen. It has become a man point of robbery attacks.
In an interview, Blessing Christopher who sells drinks of various kinds in the Bishop Okoye axis of Mile 3 Market said for the past one week, the area has been invaded and targeted by hoodlums.
She said last week shops were robbed and money was taken from shop owners when robbers broke into people’s shops. She said the robbers even shot at someone who flashed torchlight on them, who she said happened to be a security officer.
Still speaking, she said the next day, at 8.30pm, armed robbers came to the area and robbed a woman of her sales for the day, and also offloaded 80 bags of rice from a dealers shop.
She lamented over the general insecurity in the Mile 3 area for the people and called on the Rivers State government to come to their rescue.
Confirming the development, the chairman of the Bishop Okoye Market, Uche Okeke, said the rate of insecurity faced by the people was intense, adding that all the shops have been broken into by armed robbers. He said his shop too was also affected and goods including bags of rice, beans, and money were carted away by the armed hoodlums.
On the morning of the incident, he said, armed hoodlums broke into his neighbour’s shop and packed some goods and stole money, too. He said because of the robbery attacks going on against traders, the victims now close and leave before 7pm. He said even so, this has not stopped the armed robbers who now break into the shops with all pleasure to carry out their operations. He blamed this to the worsening economic situation which he said was nothing to write home about.
He said as individuals the business operators have same responsibilities to their families including feeding their children, sending them to school, and paying house rent. He wondered how the business owners were expected to cope with all these tasks if their wares are now being systematically evacuated by hoodlums.
He said with the little money they earn from their day to day activities, they were able to support their families, until now trading in Diobu has turned into a nightmare.
The market union appealed to the mayor of Port Harcourt, Victor Ihunwo, and the Rivers State Government to make haste and come to their rescue.
Efforts to contact the mayor proved abortive.