He told journalists during an inspection tour of ongoing projects in Abakaliki that since the suspects had already been taken to Abuja, the protest was unnecessary.
He said, “The traders have the right to protest but there was no need for the protest because we (South-East governors) had enjoined the Federal Government not to relocate any Boko Haram prisoner to any prison in the South-East. Those suspects brought to Anambra State have been taken back to Abuja.
“The state decided against the protest for the reason that the governors of the region had intimated the Presidency on their opinion on the matter, and so no need for anyone to encourage people of the state to take to the streets.”
Umahi said that risking the lives of the people of the state on the streets was not the best.
It was gathered that the planned protest by the traders was expected to take place simultaneously across the five states of the South-East.
The traders in Abakaliki, according to sources, were expected to convene at the Abakpa main market at about 8am.
They were to march round the state capital before converging at the Government House gate where Umahi was also expected to address them.
It was observed that riot mobile policemen had taken over the market to prevent the traders from embarking on the protest and to avert possible breakdown of law and order in the state.
When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer, Chris Anyanwu, said that the command had to beef up security on major roads and locations of the state to avert any possible breakdown of law and order.
He said, “We got wind of plans by traders in Abakaliki markets to stage a peaceful protest over what they alleged as relocation of persons suspected to be Boko Haram members to some prisons in the South-East. We had to mobilise our men immediately to major roads and locations in the state to avert any breakdown of law and order.
“Part of our responsibility is to ensure the security of lives and properties of the citizenry. We envisaged that hoodlums may take advantage of the protest to disrupt the peace of the state especially now that the election petition tribunal is sitting in the state capital. We don’t want people to loot peoples’ properties in the name of peaceful protest, so we had to mobilise our men.”
Meanwhile, the Speaker of the Cross River State House of Assembly, Mr. John Lebo, on Thursday said the state would resist any attempt to send Boko Haram suspects to prison facilities in the state.
Lebo said this in Calabar during his maiden press briefing with journalists.
The Speaker, who was reacting to a question on the recent public outcry over the relocation of Boko Haram suspects to a prison facility in Anambra State, said the Federal Government should not contemplate sending Boko Haram suspects to any prison facility in Cross River State.
He said emphatically that the state could not accommodate the suspects.
There are no fewer than six prisons sited in different locations including Calabar, Adim, Obubra, Ogoja and Obudu.
Lebo said, “We will resist relocation of Boko Haram suspects to Calabar Prisons or any other one in the state.”
He reiterated the assembly’s commitment towards making good laws that would impact positively on the lives of the citizens.
Lebo, who represents Abi state constituency in the House, also underscored the need for a robust relationship between the legislature and the executive, this he said, would help in deepening democracy in the count