Pandemonium, over the weekend, rocked Imo State as seven suya (roasted chicken or beef delicacy) sellers were killed by armed men.
It was gathered that the traders were killed in separate shootings in Orlu and Umuaka in the Njaba Local Government Area of the state.
Harisu Ishiaku, an eyewitness who spoke to newsmen, said that the suspected killers, who were dressed in military uniform and numbered more than seven, stormed the Afor Umuaka Market around 8.30 pm, accosted the victims in their shops and shot them.
According to him, four of the victims were in the age bracket of 30 to 45 and had lived in the area for many years without any trouble or attack from any member of the community.
While suspecting those who carried the attack to be strangers in the land, Ishiaku pointed out that before now, there had never been any problem between the traders and the Umuaka community.
Narrating how the incident occurred, the Imo State Coordinator of Hausa traders, Mallam Ibrahim Abdulkadir, said the first incident happened on Friday as three suya sellers who were about to close for the day were accosted by the gunmen.
The gunmen were said to have arrived in a Sienna car and shot at them.
He said four other traders were attacked in a similar fashion at Umuaka.
Abdulkadir stated that Hausa traders in Orlu now live in fear as some had relocated to Owerri.
He said, “Actually, this thing started since on April 2. I was called that three persons had been killed by some men operating in a Siena car. The victims were suya sellers and were killed just as they were closing their shop in the night.
“Just as we were about to handle the situation, on Saturday, I was called again that four persons were killed by the same people.”
It was learnt that the victims’ corpses were taken to Owerri for burial according to Muslim rites.
Meanwhile, the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Gender, Vulnerable Groups, Northern Affairs (Men), Ibrahim Sulaiman, said the state government, as well as security agencies, were on top of the matter.
He noted that Governor Hope Uzodimma was disturbed by the death of the suya sellers and was poised to bring the perpetrators justice.
“We have just finished a meeting with government officials and head of security agencies in the state. They’ve intervened in the matter to ensure that peace reigns. We cannot continue like this. We must nip this in the bud for the peace and security of our country,” Sulaiman stated.