Raymond Ozoji, Awka
Article Dealers Association Modebe Shopping Plaza, Madueke street Onitsha yesterday stormed Anambra state Government House in protest against forceful relocation of the traders to Provisions and Cosmetics market at Ogbunike in Oyi local government area of the state.
The protesters in a motorcade from Onitsha moved to the Government House gate where they temporarily blocked the gate demanding to see the governor who was said to be out of the country but opted to see the Secretary to the State Government to lay their complaints about harassment, intimidation, maiming and looting of their wares.
The traders carried placards with inscriptions such as “Governor Obiano help us to open our shops, we don’t have shops at Ogbunike new market, please we are not provisions and cosmetics dealers, we are Article dealers, our lives are in danger, if government fails to do something now it will be tough for us, we are not against your site, please leave us alone and go to your site.”
Other placard inscriptions include: “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 per cent of us are petty traders, we don’t have money to rent shops elsewhere, we are not part of provision and cosmetics union, this is January 2020 please, we are dying of hunger, stop this intimidation and molestation,” among others.
The spokesperson of the traders Chief Herbert Iwuoha said that the taskforce from ministry of commerce and trade with some joint security agents two days ago stormed their market, demolished illegal structures which he said the traders were not against but noted that they went ahead and told them to relocate to the new provisions and cosmetics market at Ogbunike.
He alleged that the taskforce since two days now prevented the traders to have access to their shops while touts and hoodlums broke into their shops and looted their wares and injured some traders.
“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 with wounds sustained from the thugs. They said that 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 to pay our children school fees, pay 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 stated.
At the government house gate, a security agent came to address the traders and took the leaders of the Union to the SSG office where SSG Prof Solo Chukwudebelu after hearing their complaints referred them to the commissioner for commerce and trade for amicable resolution of the matter.