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Legal Battle to Stop Abia Government From Demolishing Houses Inside Market Launched By Cattle Dealers

On March 13, 2024, a hearing in a lawsuit to prevent the state government from moving forward with its plan to renovate the Umuchieze Garki Cattle Market would begin at an Abia State High Court located in Isuochi. Additionally, the government has made the decision to stop livestock merchants and their families from residing inside the market. However, after receiving a warning notice from the Umunneochi Local Government’s Town Planning Authority, which is about to start demolishing residential homes inside the market, the cattle traders and market goers have taken the government to court.

Twelve people, including group spokesperson Buba Kedemure, Sarkin Zango, and Hussaini Muhammad, filed the lawsuit No. HUM/9/2024 on behalf of the market’s residents as well as livestock sellers. The Court would make a decision on an application for an interlocutory injunction to stop the government from demolishing residential buildings inside the market until the matter is heard and decided. Since last October, the Abia administration and the livestock merchants have been at odds over the government’s desire to redesign the cattle market and turn it into a non-residential space, citing security concerns.

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The State Commissioner of Police, Ikechukwu Uwanna, the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Ndubuisi Ike, the Chairman of Umunneochi Local Government, and the State Commissioner for Lands, Chaka Chukwumerije, have all joined the claim as defendants. The third defendant, Umunneochi Council Chairman, is the specific target of the interlocutory injunction, even if it is intended to restrain all of the defendants and their representatives because his Council issued the warning notice for demolition.

Additionally, they want that the court issue an order instructing the defendants, “and in particular the third defendant (Council Chairman), to maintain the status quo as of February 13, 2024, when the plaintiffs were served with a demolition “warning notice” by the Umunneochi Town Planning Authority.” The plaintiffs claimed in a 29-point supporting affidavit that their spokesperson, Buba Kedemure, had deposed that they will suffer negative effects from the demolition of the market, including being forced into homelessness. The market dwellers claimed that “the third defendant has concluded a plan to go on with the demolition in defiance of the pending process before the Court,” which is why their application “has become necessary.”

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