CLASH BETWEEN TRADERS AND REVENUE COLLECTORS CAUSES SERIOUS DISASTER IN ONITSHA

No fewer than 50 persons, yesterday, sustained various degrees of injuries, while about 20 shops were destroyed, following a confrontation between some revenue collectors from Onitsha South Local Government Area and traders at the Millenium Merchants and Importers Association Markets, Main Market, Onitsha.

Trouble started when Onitsha South Local Government Area Chairman, Lady Ann Chukwuneke, allegedly stormed the market with over 100 youths to collect revenue from the traders and at the same time clamp down on street trading in the area.
A source said the council officials started dismantling some of the shops, which did not go down well with the traders.
This, it was learned, resulted in a free-for-all between the traders and revenue collectors, following which over 50 persons sustained injuries.
Among those reportedly injured were the Vice Chairman of the market, Prince Peter Okoye and Obiora Otigba.
The traders began to protest, with placards bearing inscriptions such as “The council chairman is not a good mother,” “Governor Obiano should remove her,” “We have lost huge sums of money to hoodlums.”
Governor intervenes
Reacting to the development, the President of Anambra State Markets Amalgamation Traders Association, AMATAS, Chief Okwudili Ezenwankwo, said the council chairman had no right to storm the market and destroy the wares of the traders, some of who, he said, lost huge sums of money to hoodlums.
He said: “The governor directed me to come and calm the traders and to reopen their shops, that he is looking into the crisis. I am happy the governor is aware because he does not want crisis in the state.”
Market’s Chairman reacts
Earlier, the chairman of the market, Mr. Valentine Ezechukwu, and former chairman, Chief Obiora Nwankwo, described the action of the council boss as uncalled for, adding that they had earlier discussed with the chairman on the way forward for the market and wondered why she stormed the market without notice.
They said: “We gave a token to the council, yet they stormed the market demanding N50,000 per shop.”
Three traders, Uche Okolie, John Achukwu, from Warri and one Joseph claimed to have lost N 2.5 million, N360,000 and N 100,000, respectively, to the hoodlums.

The timely intervention of the Onitsha Police Area Commander, Mr. Benjamin Wordu, saved the situation from escalating to other markets.

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