Anambra widows protest market relocation

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Governor Willie Obiano
Governor Willie Obiano

No fewer than 500 widows trading at the Coca Cola Foods and Vegetable Market, Onitsha, Anambra State on Monday took to the streets, protesting their relocation to Atani Market by the state government.

Adorning black T-shirts with the inscription ‘widows’ on the front and back, the protesters rolled on the ground, crying for sympathy.
They enjoined the state Governor, Willie Obiano, to change his mind and save them the agony of harassment and intimidation by thugs who masqueraded as agents of government.

They said the implication of their relocation was that they would now be made to pay dearly for shops as against their former location where they were not paying anything.

They sang anti-government songs.

Their placards read, “Ogbaru LGA chairman, leave us alone”, “Seven of us have died in the last two weeks; we have been chased out of our market”,” We will never leave where we are making money to train our children for places selfish politicians have designed for the money that will go into their pockets” and “Two women were raped along the road where we are told to relocate.”

Other placards read, “Armed robbers attacks us on the road to the new location we were told to go and dispossessed us of our money”,” We are not street traders, don’t classify Obodoukwu Road as street trading place”, “Where we are presently trading, we do not pay; God sent the owner of the place to help widows numbering over 500 trading there.”

Mrs. Caroline Okafor, Mrs. Kate Emodi and Mrs. Nkechinyere Chibuike, addressed newsroom on their alleged predicament, harassment.

A government official, who did not want to be named, said it was in the best interest of the traders to be located.

She said the place the traders wanted to be allowed to be was exposed to several hazards, including road mishaps.

“On one occasion, a trailer veered into the market and killed over 60 persons at the place,” the government official stated.

, intimidation and assault meted out to them and their daughters, who helped them in the trading after school, said, “The people who have been instigating the officials of the state government to relocate us to the new place have perfected plans to collect revenues that will enter into their private pockets.

“We have been trading here in more than 30 years without paying anything. This is done out of the magnanimity and benevolence of the owner of the place, Chief Edwin, whom we all know as Super.

“God will bless that man for us. Former governors of the state, like Dr. Chinweoke Mbadinuju, Dr. Chris Ngige and Mr. Peter Obi had visited us, encouraged us and allowed us to continue our trading here.

“Former governor Obi even fenced the place to give us protection from the road,” said Mrs. Okafor.

Mrs. Emodi said, “The place they told us to relocate to is not conducive. It is in contention between Atani and Obosi people of Idemili North. And they have warned us to steer clear of the place.

“Besides that, their new place will expose us to armed robbers and rapists’ attack. We are robbed on a daily basis while some of us and our daughters are being raped daily because of the nature of our goods which need early morning trading and getting to the market early.

“One of us lost her child to kidnappers last week and the baby is yet to be seen. We face all manner of attacks there. Our bags are snatched daily. We were attacked and our goods worth millions of naira were destroyed in the last two weeks when some people came from Awka to enforce our relocation, but we resisted them because we cannot afford to pay for stores in the new place.

“We are therefore appealing to Governor Obiano to revisit that decision to relocate us, if he knows about it. And if he does not know anything about that, we appeal to him to prevail on the Ogbaru LG authorities and the people whom they have been using to enforce the relocation to stop further harassment.

“We are not paying for this place because we are mostly widows and poor people. Where they want us to go, the politicians have perfected how they will make us pay through our nose. We have all decided that it is either they allow us to stay here or we are ready to join our husbands in the great beyond,” They said.

A government official, who did not want to be named, said it was in the best interest of the traders to be located.

She said the place the traders were insisting to be allowed to be was exposed to several hazards, including road mishaps. (Punch)

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