Halilu Mohammed is the Secretary of Onions Dealers Association in Imo State. In this interview, he narrated how suspected members of the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) attacked and confiscated two trucks transporting onions to the eastern part of the country. Excerpts:
Can you tell us how the incident happened?
Well, there were two trucks conveying onions from Kano State. These people stopped the vehicles and seized the drivers and the vehicles and they later drove the vehicles to one side where they ransacked and sold all the onions before we could get the security agencies to get to the area.
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Each bag of the onion costs at least N15,000 at market price but they sold each of the bags at N9,000.
Who are those people that carried out the attacked?
Of course they were Biafran militants (IPOB), who were marching with their flags. They carried out the attack, looted the goods and sold each and every of the onions conveyed in the vehicle.
Where did they carry out the attack?
The attack was carried out at the market where these vehicles were stopped and ransacked. They gave out a price and sold each bag of the onions at the price of N9,000 and went away with the money. Before security agencies arrived, they have already sold out all the onions in one vehicle. It was after security agencies have arrived then we moved the other vehicle to a safer place so that they do not attack again and possibly go with the vehicle.
Who owns the goods?
The onions belonged to one Alhaji Bello who also owned the trucks conveying the onions loaded from Kano to Imo state.
What is the estimated value of all the onions in each vehicle?
We have estimated each of the vehicles was conveying at least 470 bags of onions. And each of the bag of onion is sold at a market price of N15,000.
What is the implication of this incident and what effect could it have on business in that area?
The incident has already affected both the people in that area as well as those traders who engage in such businesses. Now, people are already in fear, and those drivers have lost the peace of mind to convey onions to Imo state. Everyone is scared of the probable danger. We have so many vehicles on ground that refused to convey onions to Imo state.
What actions are you taking?
Well, we are keeping in touch with our leaders, our traditional rulers and government to look into the situation for appropriate action.
How are northerners in the eastern part coping with the unrest in these areas?
Now everything seems to be normal. The tension is subsiding unlike when the incident happened.