Cattle dealers in Gariki Cattle market, Awkunanaw, Enugu state have faulted media reports that their mosque was burnt down owing to a dispute between two people in the market that led to their deaths.
The cattle dealers said that the burnt property in the market was as a result of the dry harmattan weather, stating that no single individual or group was identified as being responsible for the fire incident.
Leaders of the cattle market spoke on Friday when Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu state visited the market to assess the extent of damage and to interact with the cattle market community.
Governor Ugwuanyi was conducted round the market by the Chairman of the Gariki cattle market Association, Mr. Baba Ali ; a former Senior Special Assistant to the Enugu state Governor on inter-community matters, Mr. Ahmed Abubakar, among other leaders of the Hausa community in the market.
Speaking on the incident that occured on Wednesday, the Chairman of Gariki Cattle market in Enugu, Mr. Baba Ali, said: “Something happened by accident that we did not expect. Since 1970, we have been with the Igbo people here in peace and we have not had any problem. Something just happened by accident but we have settled the problem.”
Ali said any other news about the incident was “mere propaganda.”
He explained that the incident occurred when two persons fought resulting in the death of the two and leading to a riot which was immediately settled.
“Nobody burnt any mosque. What happened was a fire accident, this is harmatan period. We have two mosques here; you can see people praying there, the other one is in the other side there,” Ali said.
He said that security agencies have been working to ensure that there was no breakdown of law and order in the area.
Also speaking, a former Senior Special Assistant to the Enugu state Governor on inter-community matters, Mr. Ahmed Abubakar said media reports about the incident didn’t portray the existing cordial relationship between the Igbo and the Hausa community.
He corroborated Ali’s statement that no mosque was destroyed.
On the measure being put in place to forestall a further occurrence, the Governor’s Special Adviser on Security matters, Gen. Fred Eze (rtd) said “the government is interested in peace of the place and that was why when what happened here happened, security agencies were deployed to contain the situation and immediately the market leaders put heads together, discussed and agreed that there should be peace and everywhere is calm that is why the market is operating.”