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Onitsha Traders Petition Soludo, Condemn Ex- Anambra Commissioner’s Obnoxious Policies



By Julie Sylvia, Onitsha

Traders operating at the popular Onitsha Bridgehead market, Anambra State, Wednesday, took a swipe at the former Commissioner for Trade, Commerce, Markets and Wealth Creation, Hon. Uchenna Okafor, for allegedly using security operatives and disobedient to court order, to intimidate and frustrate them.

In a petition to Governor Charles Chukwuma Soludo, through the Commissioner for Commmerce and Industry, Hon. Obinna Ngonadi, the traders lamented the hardship they went through during the reign of the former Commissioner. They claimed that he collaborated with the sacked chairman of the market, Chief Sunday Obinze, to cause further chaos in the market.

The protesting traders represented by Chief Okey Ojimba, as chairman, Chief Cyprian Umeh, Secretary and comrade Peter Okala, Public Relations Officer, PRO, for the body of patrons, Board of Trustees (BOT) and stakeholders, however commended Governor Chukwuma Soludo for coming to their rescue by picking Commissioner Ngonadi as Okafor’s successor.

The petition read, “We would never forgive the Commissioner or forget the pain, anguish, threat, extortion and man’s inhumanity to man suffered in the hands of the Commissioner through the so called Leadership of Mr Sunday Obinze, and others, who were sacked by a court of competent jurisdiction and unfortunately, they were restored to the same office, by the former Commissioner.”

They recalled that the Onitsha high Court 3, Presided over by Hon. Justice, D. A. Onyefulu, made an order forbidden the conduct of an election into the offices of the executives of Bridge Head market Traders Association, on 16th April, 2019, and another valid order on the 4th February, 2021, nullifying such elections which were conducted in flagrant disobedience of her order of 2019, by Sunday Obinze-led executive.

”In order for the former Commissioner to protect his Involvement at the Bridge Head market, in a mock obedience to the said court order, returned Mr Sunday Obinze, and all his executives to the same seat as Caretaker Committee members and assisted Mr Sunday Obinze to change the name of the market association and registered same secretly without the consent of the traders.

“They carried out a closed door election and elected him, (Sunday Obinze), as the President General, to hold office till 2025, also Mr Sunday Obinze, is the chairman of the Board of Trustees, (BoT), of the fake association known as Bridge Head Market International,” the traders disclosed further.”

They were also accused of diversion of Anambra State Government Revenue (IGR) within the period under review adding that then traders paid for about four years without issuance of government receipts, as the former Commissioner gave them backing, thereby depriving the Government from generating enough money from the market.

They said also that, “We traders suffered untold hardship in the hands of the Commerce Ministry, headed by former Commissioner Okafor, (Wiper), we were intimidated in droves by the use of security agencies for enforcement on potential defaulters, hundreds of millions of naira, of government revenue, found its way into private pockets and Mr Sunday Obinze, Uchenna Okafor, Samuel Ike, (then Permanent Secretary), and a host of others, became rich overnight and proud owners of choice properties in and outside the state,.

“The same level of Impunity negatively affected many other markets in Anambra State, as Mr Uchenna Okafor, planted stooges in almost all the markets in Anambra State and was becoming increasingly rich by the day, court orders were not regarded, even court ballifs were attacked on delivery of court papers by the so called market associations’ leadership,” they continued.

According to the traders, “The glory of the State which played host and housed the largest market in West Africa sub region, diminished and prospective customers left Anambra State because of the level of extortion they suffered in the hands of the task force and other revenue collectors employed by Uchenna Okafor and his brand of market Leaders”.

Consequently, they stated that the economy of the State started dwindling very fast as her major enablers were declining, the undocumented trade, retailers and local marketers were packing up, and things were falliing apart.

Commending the Governor further for appointing Hon. Ngonadi, as the new Commerce and Industry Commissioner, the tradets said that the solution to their problems has come, hinting that within barely six months in office, the Government has demonstrated that Liveable and prosperous home land is possible in every department of our collective life.

They said that, “The appointment of Dr Obinna Chima Ngonadi and subsequent renaming of the Ministry to Commerce and Industry, signaled a positive signpost of change, which translated into the political will to dissolve over 32 flawed markets and subsequent replacement with competent and well qualified leaders, with a specific instructions of resolving all dispute and bringing back sense of industry which was the secret of success as a People, and preparing ground for transparent leadership and general elections.

“The body of patrons, BoT and stake holders in Bridge Head Market Traders Association, is particularly touched by the restoration of rule of law not only at Bridge Head Market Onitsha, but in all the markets in Anambra State.. Worthy of note is the wisdom of the Hon Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Dr Obinna Chima Ngonadi, not only resolving all the crisis created by Mr Uchenna Okafor, in various markets with the letters of the law, but returning market association to their owners who are the Board of Trustees (BoT),” they explained.

They however disclosed that, while all interest groups were mounting all kinds of pressure on the Hon. Commissioner, he issued a directive that Mr Sunday Obinze , should hand over all the properties of the Bridge Head Market Traders Association, to the BoT members who were at that material time, in their various shops, stating that it was the reason the body of patrons, BoT and all stake holders, welcomed with both hands, the subsequent appointment of a young, energetic and qualified trader, Mr Chinedu Ezekweike, as the present chairman, (caretaker Committe), President General, of Bridge Head Market Traders Association, (BHMTA).

They described the appointment by the Hon Commissioner through the BoT members, as a welcome development, pledging that he would receive maximum support from the traders.

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