Two rival market unions have clashed at Umuopara Palm Oil Beach Market in Umuahia South LGA of Abia State, leaving two persons critically injured and hospitalised at the Federal Medical Centre, FMC Umuahia.
The two rival groups, Palm Oil Association of Nigeria and United Palm Oil Dealers Association, have been battling for the leadership of the market as well as who should control the market’s revenue collections since August 2023.
But all hell broke loose on Thursday when the two rival associations engaged each other in a violent clash, which landed three members of United Palm Dealers Association in hospital, with two of them in critical state.
The names of those in critical condition are Kingsley Onyemuche and Peter Anyanwu while the next injured trader is Monday Ogunka.
While Kingsley Onyemuche and Peter Anyanwu were admitted to the Casualty and Emergency Ward of the FMC, Umuahia, because of the seriousness of their situation, Monday Ogunka was admitted to another department, as his own injury was said to be minimal.
Those in critical conditions were kept on the floor of the hospital because of lack of bed space and infused with drugs to stabilize them.
FS News gat.d that trouble started in the market on Thursday afternoon when the two groups contested who should collect revenue from a Jos, Plateau State-bound truck loaded in the oil market with palm oil.
While one group said it was its right to collect the revenue, another group said it should collect the money and mobilised its men to lock the gate of the market so as to prevent the loaded truck from leaving the market.
But according to an eyewitness who pleaded anonymity, a group of thugs allegedly mobilised by one Chima Ukaegbu, the interim chairman of the market, arrived at the scene and descended on the members of the United Palm Oil Dealers Association, beating and kicking them mercilessly.
The eyewitness, who claimed that the interim chairman is a relative of a top official of Abia State Government, added that the invading thugs beat three members of their rivals to coma, resulting in two of them losing consciousness on the spot before being rushed to the FMC.
He added that the fracas created panic in and around the market as many traders locked their shops and fled, while customers that came to buy goods, also ran away.
A similar clash was prevented in September this year, when the two groups accused each other of threatening the peace of the market.
Efforts to hear from the interim Chairman, Chima Ukaegbu on the ugly development was not successful.
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