Business activities at the Ogbete Main Market in the Enugu North Local Government Area of Enugu State were on Tuesday grounded as traders staged a peaceful protest against the government’s imposition of a none trader as the caretaker chairman of the market for over two years.
The protesters, under the aegis of the Concerned Ogbete Market Traders, carried placards with various inscriptions such as: ‘We don’t want caretaker in Ogbete Market’, ‘Ogbete traders want election into the market union leadership’, ‘Our election should not pass two weeks’, and ‘Ogbete traders want a date for election’, among others, marched through the major streets to the Enugu North Local Government secretariat.
The traders, who were guarded by police operatives led by the Area Commander, ACP Denis, alleged that the caretaker chairman and former caretaker chairman of Enugu North Local Government Area, one John Eze, had boasted that Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi had settled him with the Ogbete Market and he would stay in office for four years.
A protest letter signed by the leader of the protesters, Mr Osita Ike, addressed to the Chairman of the local government, Mr Emma Onoh, read in part, “The over stay of the caretaker committee in Ogbete for a period of two years and one month instead of six months given to the members under the chairmanship of a non-trader is overdue and we no longer want caretakers.”
The traders stated that since the history of the market, a non-trader had never been their leader let alone being a caretaker chairman for over two years, a development they said run against their constitution.
They described the delay of the electoral committee to announce the date for election after two weeks of its inauguration as unbearable and unacceptable.
“John Eze has betrayed and lost our trust, therefore, the traders have passed a vote of no confidence in his caretaker leadership. We are demanding the immediate dissolution of the caretaker government and the conduct of election before the end of September 2019,” the traders declared.
Responding, Onoh commended the traders for conducting themselves peacefully and assured them that he would communicate with them before the end of the week on the modalities for the election into the union.
Onoh said he would ensure that the election into the Ogbete Main Market Association would be transparent, free and fair to ensure that the will of the traders was not subverted.
When Eze was contacted on the telephone, he told Southern City News that he did not want to join issues with the traders.
In a similar development, some concerned traders at the Eke-Oha Market in Aba, Abia State, have called on Governor Okezie Ikpeazu to sack the Chairman of the traders’ association, Mr Friday Dimiri, over allegations of high handedness, intimidation of traders and misappropriation of funds.
The traders made the call following the release of a viral video showing a supposed mentally-ill man, who specialises in criticising political leaders, come into the market and lambasted Ikpeazu, saying his government was fraudulent and useless.
He was seen in another footage after he was arrested by the market leadership reading out the names of traders he alleged paid him N10,000 to go to the market and insult the governor.
It was gathered that the emergency of the second video caused pandemonium in the market as all those listed by the man were members of the Concerned Traders, who did not agree with the chairman of the market over his style leadership.
The matter, however, took a political dimension when the supposed mentally-ill man linked the accused persons to the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance in the state, Dr Alex Otti.
The Concerned Traders, led by their spokesman, Ugochukwu Oriaku, accused Dimiri of being responsible for the first coming of the man into the market and thereafter decided to use the second video to indict them, because they were opposed to his alleged excesses.
When contacted to respond to the allegations levelled against him, Dimiri declined to comment on the matter.