Posted by News Express | 13 May 2019 | 1,129 times
The Int’l Society for Civil Liberties & Rule of Law (Intersociety) has written to Anambra State Governor, Chief Willie Obiano, demanding transparent election at Onitsha Bridgehead Market and others across the state.
The Open Letter dated 13th May, 2019 was signed by Intersociety Board Chair Emeka Umeagbalasi; Head, Civil Liberties & Rule of Law, Obianuju Joy Igboeli, Esq.; Head, Democracy & Good Governance, Chinwe Umeche, Esq.; and Head, Campaign & Publicity Department, Chidimma Evan Udegbunam, Esq. It was routed through the state Commissioner for Commerce and Trade, Mr. Christian. Madubuko, PhD.
Intersociety in the letter called for the “conduct of transparent election into all the elective offices of the Onitsha Bridgehead Market. The four years tenure of the present executives of the Market expires tomorrow, 14th May 2019, having been first elected on 14th May 2015.”
The letter reads in part: “Intersociety is also calling for full democratization or institutionalization of democratic processes and avoidance of imposition of Government appointed “caretaker committees” in all major and mini markets in Anambra State numbering over 250 or any part thereof. This must be extended to the leadership of the central market body overseeing all market associations in the State. Those occupying its leadership positions must be truly and popularly elected representatives of the Anambra Markets’ traders. The elections and tenures of such officers must also be strictly and transparently regulated, to avoid overstay in office and attendant dictatorial tendencies.
“Institutionalization of democratic processes in Anambra markets and strict regulation of the tenures of their elected executives will checkmate tensions, leadership tussles, bad leadership, intra market violence and graft practices. This is more so when recent researchers have found Anambra to be the hotbed of four major types of non state actor leadership crises including violence; namely: land/inter/intra communal boundary tussle, town union leadership tussle, traditional rulers/chieftaincy tussle and market leadership tussle.
“Need For Transparent Election At Bridgehead Market
“As Your Excellency is likely aware, the four years tenure of the present centrally elected leadership of the Onitsha Bridgehead Market, compromising 27 major and mini markets ends tomorrow, being 14th May 2019. The present elected executives of the Market is led by Mr. Sunday Obinze, first elected in 2015 which is also optionally renewable for another four years.
“As it stands, the election into various elective positions in the Market is conducted using delegate method or according to number of delegates allotted to each of the 27 market units depending on numerical strength of each of the market units. The elected executives of the Bridgehead Market supposedly run the general affairs of the entire Market with leaders of market units (usually chairmen and secretaries), under a platform called General Executive Council or GEC.
“Our writing Your Excellency, therefore, is borne of tensions and apprehensions now gripping the Market. The Onitsha Bridgehead Market used to be a jungle between 1998 and 2006 owing to bad and sit-tight leadership; until same 2006 when it took the joint intervention of human rights groups coordinated by the Anambra State branch of the Civil Liberties Organization (CLO), some activist traders and market leaders and top security personnel, among them was then ACP, but now retired (recently) DIG Muhammed Musa Katsina (then AC, State CID) to cleanse the Market and restore peace and tenure leadership.
“Your Excellency is therefore called upon to so direct that transparent election be conducted in the Market tomorrow being 14th May 2019 and avoid the use or imposition of Government appointed caretaker committee. The transparent election under demand must also include provision of adequate security and level playing ground for the incumbents seeking to be returned and members of the opposition seeking to be freshly elected. Nobody must be shut out provided he or she is validly nominated as electoral delegate by any of the 27 major or mini market units or as a candidate that fulfils all existing terms and conditions guiding the said poll.
“Condemned in its entirety is the State Government imposition of “N100, 000 and N50, 000 interest fees” for Chairmanship and Scribe candidates and different sums for other contestants as well as imposition of the so called “Mandatory Tax Clearance” for those vying for Chairmanship positions and others. This is not only a clear case of commercialization of humanitarian services and social responsibilities, but also extortionist and breeding of ground for graft practices including embezzlement of funds and encouragement of leadership militancy or violence as well as pegging of social leadership positions to the highest bidders.
“The State Government imposition of a caretaker committee headed by Mr. Chikeluo Ezioba on the Onitsha Drugs Market is also totally condemned. The caretaker committee is already into its sixth month without any sign or readiness of the State Government to conduct election into the Market’s elective offices. Government of Anambra State is hereby called upon to rewind and conduct election in the Market as a matter of extreme urgency and public importance.
“Intersociety also strongly condemns reported sundry extortion and exploitation of traders of the same Onitsha Drugs Market especially the importers and sellers of multinational drugs. The extortionist amount is said to have ranged from N500, 000 to N1m or more per trader. Apart from a police racketeer that reportedly engages in routine extortion of unsuspecting traders of the Market, it saddens our heart that there also exist “Anambra State taskforce on fake drugs, etc” solely targeting traders of the Market for sundry extortion.
“The “taskforce”, operating on Sienna Car, etc, has been severally sighted by our field officers usually in the evening by corners of the garages or inside same close to the Market. The “taskforce” is strongly suspected to be storming the Market and its environs to collect daily returns or extort its victims. Your Excellency is strongly called upon to investigate and unearth this so as to put a stop to it. This shall be done by unmasking which of Your Excellency’s commissioners or political appointees is responsible or spearheading such racketeering.”
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