Governor Alex Otti of Abia says security intelligence showed that the ransoms paid for kidnapped victims were always dropped off around the Umuchieze Cattle Market in Lokpanta of Umunneochi Local Government Area (LGA).
Mr Otti, during the monthly media parley at the Government House, Umuahia, said this was discovered after several electronic equipment were installed in different parts of the state.
“A few weeks ago, we found that a lot of the ransom that was paid for kidnapping ended up somewhere around Umunneochi LGA.
“We decided to dominate the place, and what we saw was shocking. In less than 48 hours, we recovered over 80 dead bodies around the cattle market, and we recovered 20 headless bodies decomposing bodies, which include adults and children.
“We recovered uncountable skeletons of people who had been killed and left to decompose still around that axis,” he said.
The governor expressed the resolve of the state government to rid Abia of all forms of crime because ”no government succeeds in the face of insecurity.”
He said the government would neither condone nor get involved in supporting insecurity in any form or manner.
Mr Otti also said different forms of crime, such as gun running, prostitution, narcotics trade and heavy use of substances, were highly operational in the cattle market.
He said investigations were ongoing to ascertain the people involved in the crime, adding that this informed the decision of the state government to change the cattle market into a general market.
He said the state government had taken a step to secure the market by fencing it and issuing a directive to be a non-residential daily market, which would open from 6:00 a.m. through 6:00 p.m.
Mr Otti said in line with the government’s directives, the market would no longer be exclusively for selling cattle, but it would operate as a general market where other items would be sold.
“Now, some persons said that we had sent away the Hausa community living in Abia, but remember, when we saw the skeletons, we did not know which skeletons belonged to either Hausa or Yoruba.
“The spread of the false information led to a northern group issuing a quit notice to Igbo living in the North to leave and come back to the East,” he stated.
The governor explained that a meeting was held with the group, during which explanations were given about the government’s intention.
“We challenged them that anybody that is not in support of what we are doing must be a criminal, then they saw reason with us and reversed themselves,” he added.