Illegal extortion may trigger crisis in Onitsha markets – Traders

Illegal extortion may trigger crisis in Onitsha markets - Traders

As traders calls on the state government to come to their rescue

By Tony Ezike

Traders at the New Auto Spare Parts Market Nkpor have raised concern over the alarming scale of touting and illegal extortion of their members by the Elisus Umeozor led executive committee ~ Citypost reports.

An independent investigation by this reporter revealed that some market leaders in Anambra State are undermining the efforts of Governor Chukwuma Soludo towards decent revenue drive for effective development.

Typical example of this illegal extortion was when one of the traders Chief Lawrence Maduchem (OVERLINK) to pay the government approved 7,400 Naira stallage fee on 24th December 2022, only to discover that market leaders have increased the amount indiscriminately.

Trouble started when the Financial Secretary Mr Alexander Orji asked traders to pay extra 4,000 Naira as penalty, marking it 11,400 Naira as against the previously approved 7,400 Naira.

Further investigations by Citypost revealed that those who attempted to pay the stipulated fee after the Christmas season were all turned back unless they pay additional 4,000 Naira penalty which is alleged to be meant for private accounts.

According to prominent traders like Chief Stephen Obiora Ofoleh and Comrade Edwin Ibeabuchi, Elisus Umeozor led executive committee seems hell-bent in truncating the good works of Prof Chukwuma Soludo towards creating peaceful trading environment in all the markets in the state.

Some of the traders are insinuating that Elisus could be working at crossroads with the Solution Governor, being the first Chairman to truncate their aims and objectives, brought Andy Uba into the market during the 2021 gubernatorial election, which he won inside the market, among other fraudulent activities.

The market chairman was reported to have boasted that he must be reelected in the market union election coming up on Monday 6th February, 2023 despite his inability to restore peace and prosperity in the market.

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However they vowed to resist further extortion, as majority of their members have refused to comply with the punitive terms of the Mr Elisus Umeozor led executive committee, saying that they can no longer patronize illegal extortion of innocent traders for any reason whatsoever.

Similarly, members of Abada International Market Ogbaru have cried out to the state government to come to their rescue over increasing intimidation and extortion of traders in the area.

In an exclusive interview with Mr Emmanuel Akwobi (Provost 1) and Mr Ekene Amauche (Member) Citypost gathered that in what seems like a syndicate plan, the Basil Ozoh led Caretaker Committee of Abada International Market has descended heavily on the traders with extortion and intimidation for selfish reasons.

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Traders in the market are being compelled to pay the sum of 9,400 Naira instead of the normal sum of 7,400, a difference of additional 2,000 for no just cause. This development has resulted to daily infighting in the market which is obviously unsafe for the traders, their customers and a bad image to the state at large.

The traders decried the unwarranted intimidation of their members by an executive committee whose tenure elapsed since September 2022, yet they refused to conduct an election to usher in new executives that will ensure peaceful business transactions in the market.

Besides the illegal extortion, Mr Oliver Onuzulike alias FUNCTION and one Mr Udechukwu Oyeto have been instructed to beat up and seize the goods of traders who fail to comply to any demand of the so-called market leadership at any time. With this development, it is obvious that the safety of traders in the market is no longer guaranteed, hence their outcry fir government intervention.

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Each of the trading facilities in Onitsha metropolis are calling on the state government under the leadership of His Excellency Prof Chukwuma Soludo to wade into the crises and ensure that the right leadership is put in place to forestall further extortion of traders and consequent shortchanging of government in view of internally generated revenue.

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