Onitsha traders protest demolition of market by state govt, lament looting of goods by thugs

Posted by News Express | 10 January 2020 | 693 times

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•Demolished market, Onitsha

Traders at Modebe Shopping Plaza, Madueke Street, Onitsha, Anambra State, on Thursday rose against the demolition of their shops while they were away for the Christmas and New Year holiday.

The protesters, under the auspices of Article Dealers Association, staged a protest at the Government House, Awka, over forceful relocation from their market.

According to the traders, the protest was intended to draw the attention of the State Governor, Chief Willie Obiano, to their plights.

They also sighted harassment, intimidation, maiming and looting of their ware as part of the issues at hand.

The aggrieved traders carried placards with various inscriptions that read: “Governor, save our souls”, “Why is this multiple violations of court order, our case is in court”, “Let provision and cosmetics dealers go to their market”, “99 percent of us are petty traders, we don’t have money to rent shops elsewhere”, “This is January 2020, we are dying of hunger”, and “Stop this intimidation and molestation”.

Recall that task force and joint security team of the Police, Army, Civil Defence and Vigilante group had stormed the plaza around 4am with bulldozers and demolished some structures in the market.

The traders were subsequently ordered to move to Provisions and Cosmetics market at Ogbunike in Oyi Local Government Area of the state.

Chief Herbert Iwuoha, who spoke on behalf of the protesters, described the government order for them to relocate to a new location as unfair, saying that they had transacted business for decades in the demolished area.

He said: “I’ve been in the Plaza right from my apprenticeship days in 1985. Those cosmetics dealers who were with us left on their volition and we can’t join them because we’re not part of them.

“They went and blocked our shops with thugs, security agents and other government agents. They are there demolishing some structures, molesting and beating some of us who entered into the plaza.

“Some traders are currently with wounds sustained from the thugs. They said we must move to the new market where we didn’t build and the union we are not part of.

“We want governor to stop them and allow us to open our shops because this is January and we have our children school fees to pay as well as our house rent and other bills.

“We are not against demolition of illegal structures that blocked the roads. We do our business in a plaza and not on the street, so why stopping us from doing our business?”

Iwuoha alleged that they had been hindered access to their shops while touts and hoodlums broke into their shops and looted their wares and injured some traders.

The protesters were later attended to by a security agent at the entrance to the government house who took the leaders of the Union to the office of the Secretary to the State Government (SSG).

At the end of their meeting with the SSG, Prof Solo Chukwudobelu, the leaders said the SSG referred them to the Commissioner for Commerce and Trade for amicable resolution of the matter.



Source: Pamela Eboh, Awka

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