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One dies as traders, vigilantes clash in Abia over ₦18,000 levy

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At least one person has died in a fracas which ensued between traders at the Umuahia Timber market in Abia State and some vigilance members on Monday.

Trouble was said to have started after the Abia State Internal Revenue Board ordered the closure of shops whose owners refused to pay an ₦18,000 annual levy imposed by the board.

According to Daily Trust, when some local guards attached to the Abia Vigilante Service visited the market to effect the order, the traders put up resistance leading to a faceoff.

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However, in the chaos a trader, simply identified as ‘Indomie’, was shot by the vigilantes; five others reportedly sustained injuries in the melee.

Angered by ‘Indomie’s death, the traders set the Abia Vigilante Services office and their vehicles ablaze.

Commandant of the AVGS, Mr Idika, who bemoaned the burning of their office and an operational van of the security outfit, denied that a trader was killed by his men.

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He said, “We have gone round the entire hospitals in Umuahia including Federal Medical Center (FMC), but there was no case of gunshot injury patient or body from Timber Shed in the facilities that we visited.”

Meanwhile, the Secretary to the State Government, Chris Ezem, in a statement today asked the police to investigate the crisis and bring the arsonists to justice.

Ezem also directed personnel of the vigilante service to withdraw from the market, while the leadership of the market has been enjoined to assist the police to identify the arsonists.

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The statement read, “The impunity of burning buildings and other public institutions must stop forthwith, as arson remains a very serious crime against the state and humanity, which attracts severe consequences under our laws.

“Government will promptly discipline any Abia Vigilante Service personnel who harasses or intimidates citizens.”

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