Fierce protest of disagreement with the constitution of illegal caretaker committee by some of individuals, who claim to be in charge of the popular Ogbeogonogo market on Monday, paralyzed business activities within the market as angry traders took to various streets to chant war songs asking for an end to the illegality.
Eyewitness, Damian Okoh said the protesting traders, were armed with placards with inscriptions like: “We hate illegal caretaker committee, It should be removed now or no business in the market, We want election into various offices of Ogbeogonogo market , We demand legitimate election for the market”
Though the protest was peaceful, it was gathered that under the caretaker committee, the traders have suffered untold extortion allegedly perpetuated by hired thugs of Oshimili South local government council directly responsible for the revenue collection in the ultramodern market.
But a trader, Pastor Kendra Udensi, who spoke to journalists during the protest,alleged that upon the dissolution of the old executive nine months ago, a new caretaker committee was expected to expire after three months of its inauguration to make a way for a democratically-elected leadership, disclosing that ever since, the caretaker committee has refused to give way for election of a new leadership.
She said: “they told us that the election will not pass November 30,2018 we are shocked that up until now no election and the so-called caretaker committee allegedly brought thugs through the council help are currently extorting money unnecessarily from us as traders. As I speak to you journalists, two of our members are in the hospital just because they asked for election, they were beaten up by the hired thugs. We are appealing to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa to do something before these thugs will push us out, all we need is election for a new leadership of the market”.
The protesting traders were however placated by the the commissioner of police in the state, Mustafa Muhammad, who assured them that the needful would be carried out to create rooms for peaceful co-existence, adding that, “the Governor Dr Lfeanyi Okowa has given order that election be conducted hence I am here to ensure law and order in this market, the police will arrest anyone who constitutes crisis in this market”.
But in a swift reaction, a member of the caretaker committee, Mr Johnson Okwewe denied all allegations against the committee, disclosing that the traders were the cause of the delay in conducting the election.
He said, “we are not doing anything illegal. It is true that November 30, 2018 date has expired but we can’t conduct any election under crisis or infighting. The traders are always causing unrest to frustrate all we have been doing.”
Also speaking, Mr Ibeka Abuchi, a leader in the market, expressed happiness at the intervention of the state governor, Okowa through the commissioner of police, Mustafa Muhammad, stressing that the traders will give him the maximum support in the 2019 general elections, especially as he warned that the Oshimili South local government chairman should leave the traders to manage their association in a peaceful and legitimate manners.