Thousands of traders at Madueke Street and other adjoining markets around Ochanja market, Onitsha, trooped to the streets yesterday in a peaceful protest over threats by agents of the state government to relocate them to Ogbunike in Oyi Local Government Area of the state.
The aggrieved traders, who shut down their businesses in protest, carried placards, which bore inscriptions like: “Anambra State House of Assembly, Human Rights Organisations, come and help us”, “We are not street traders, leave us alone because we are law abiding”, “We are dealing in articles not provisions, cosmetics or bakery”, “We did not contribute money in building the market they want us to go to“, “Governor Obiano, we voted for you, save our souls”, etc.
Addressing reporters amidst protest songs chanted by the traders, patron of the market, Chief Francis Ugboaja noted the traders had been doing legitimate businesses in the area since 1985 but few years back, some traders dealing in bakery materials, cosmetics and provisions allegedly connived with other traders based in the North and built a market at Ogbunike which they are forcing other traders to relocate to in order to fill up spaces for them.
He noted that the initial plan for some of their members to join in building the market was thwarted by alleged mismanagement of funds prompting them to remain where they were while there was an imminent threat to chase them out of their business premises if they failed to comply.
Another stakeholder in the market, Chief Herbert Iwuoha said that while those who had shops in the Ogbunike market were free to join their colleagues in the new market, it amounted to an infringement on their rights to force some of them who didn’t contribute in building the market and didn’t own shops there to relocate to the site.
An elderly woman, Mrs. Agnes Nzekwe trading in rubber materials appealed to Governor Willie Obiano to intervene in their plight, adding that any forceful ejection of the thousands of traders eking out their living in the area will bring untold hardship on the citizens.
(Source: Daily Sun)