Posted by News Express | 19 February 2020 | 951 times
By GLORIA ANAEZE
Blood bath was averted at electrical/electronics market along old Nnewi-Onitsha road, Nnewi, Anambra State, yesterday, when soldiers loaded in their patrol vehicles, the police, local vigilantes, other security agencies and some youths were drafted to stop the traders from opening their stalls for the day’s business “until we relocate to another site not built for our taste.”
The traders numbering over 2,000, most of them youths, were seen gathered along the road without having access to their stalls because of the stern-looking security operatives watching them to dare that.
Spokesman for the traders who is also the chairman of Diago/Okeke Line in the market, Mr Kenneth Offodum told journalists that no previous notice was given to them by anybody either government or any relevant authority concerning the market closure and relocation.
Mr Offodum said the security men and the youths on a strict instruction did not allow the traders to come close to their stalls to pick some of their belongings left in their stalls as they had no premonition of the unfolding event.
“Nobody gave us any previous notice that we must relocate to anywhere today. We were told that it was the order of the Commissioner for Trade, Hon Uchenna Okafor. And this Commissioner hasn’t come to see us except some days ago when fire gutted our stalls here and goods worth millions of naira were lost. At that time after sympathizing with us, the Commissioner told us point blank that there were no plans to relocate us now. He said his office was still consulting to know what to do.”
“So, we are surprised to hear that it is the same Commissioner that has instructed that we should be forced out of this place. We suspect our former chairman, Chief Ugochukwu Udemezue as being the mastermind of this plot to evict us and force us to relocate to Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu plaza. His tenure has expired and he does not allow for a fresh election for our market association,” he alleged.
Mr Offodum insisted that traders at their present site rejected the plaza which he said was not built according to their taste “and we were not consulted before the plaza was built.” He noted that the plaza was not specifically built for electrical/electronic dealers who he said must be the land owners of any new site for them and must build their own site from start to finish.
“We want to relocate where we can have enough land for expansion. We will develop it by ourselves according to our taste. We will not leave our current market site where we are tenants only to relocate to another place and continue to be tenants. We reject that because we know the nature of our business and what is good for us”, the traders insisted.
On the allegation that he connived with government officials to force the traders to Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu plaza, Chief Udemezue retorted that he was not the Governor of the State. He said it was the State government that wanted them to relocate.
Vice-Chairman of Obienu/Okeke Line, Mr Chidi Udemezue who deals in multimedia and computers said all his goods and others of his co-traders were consumed by the recent fire outbreak at the market where they lost millions of naira to the fire “and the only sympathy is to force us to relocate unceremoniously. It can’t work.” He said that whoever was pursuing them out of the market must desist from the action and allow peace to reign.
He declared that the traders needed a virgin land to build stalls they would call their own and not to remain tenants perpetually.
One of the stakeholders in the market, Mr Nonso Ilozue said nobody would claim that a new site had been built for the traders and that no notice was served them to relocate elsewhere.
Some stakeholders and union executive members who flanked Mr Offodum when he addressed the press were secretary of the association, Mr Nwafor Joseph; former chairman, Johnbosco Maduanusi; former chairperson, Mrs Chinyere Priscilla Ezuma; Mr Azuka Muoghalu, stakeholder, among others.
Efforts to get the Commissioner for Trade for his reaction did not pay off as he refused to pick up his calls. (Independent)
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