Normalcy has returned to the Garriki Cattle Market, Awkunanaw, Enugu barely 24-hours after a dispute that claimed two lives broke out in the area.
This came as cattle dealers dismissed reports that their mosque was burnt as result of the minor disagreement.
The cattle dealers said that a burnt property in the market was as a result of harmattan haze, which no single individual or group was identified as being responsible for.
Leaders of the cattle market spoke friday when Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State visited the market for on-the-spot assessment and interaction with the cattle market’s community.
Ugwuanyi was conducted round the market by the Chairman of the Garriki Cattle Market Association, Alhaji Baba Ali, the former Senior Special Assistant to the Enugu State Governor on inter-community matters, Ahmed Abubakar, among other leaders of the Hausa community in the market.
Speaking on the incident that took place on Wednesday, 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.
“Any other news they are telling you is mere propaganda. We don’t have problem. We have been together since 1970, both Amagu and Amaechi; we have been together like brothers and sisters.
“What happened was that one Hausa/Fulani man attacked an Igbo boy and the Igbo boy died and the Hausa man too died, bringing about some riot but we have settled the matter. Nobody burnt any Mosque. What happened was a fire accident. We have two mosques here; you can see people praying there, the other one is in the other side there.
“Since then, we have not had any other problem. Security here is very tight. Both the DPO and the Garrison Commander are here day and night and the market is moving. Nobody stopped the market.”
In his own narration, Abubakar said: “We‘ve been living peacefully with our host; we live like brothers. If you come here, you see Igbo people speaking Hausa language. This thing that the media is reporting about burning of our Mosque is not true. This is our Friday Mosque and you can see people praying there. This is the Mosque, today is Friday, look at all the Muslims they are doing their prayer here.
“We have another Mosque over there. Then the other one is the place where we rest and this is dry season, fire incident happened. We didn’t see anybody going to burn any house.
“Your Excellency, with the good work you are doing in Enugu state, both the Igbo and the Hausa people here are living peacefully like brothers. So welcome to the market.”
On the measure being put in place to forestall further occurrence, the Governor’s Special Adviser on Security matters, Gen. Fred Eze (rtd) said: “The government is interested in peace of the place. 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.
“It was a quarrel between two individuals and not an organized group crime. It was a problem between two people, it was not a group action but that was unfortunate. Two people had misunderstanding and what happened led to their deaths and so it had nothing to do with the groups in the market.”