By Praise Necherem
The protesters shut down the market and marched round major streets of the industrial town to press home their demands before converging on the palace of the traditional ruler of Nnewi, Igwe Kenneth O. Orizu III.
Some of the placards displayed by the traders read: ” No more imposition of illegal levies in Agbo-Edo market, no more structures in our market, we don’t need building of more shops, among others.”
The traders, led by Mr. Ernest-Mary Ezenwa, alleged high-handedness of the market leadership under Mr. Christopher Osuchukwu, accusing the leadership of collaborating with the state government to demolish traders’ stalls and impose high levies on stalls.
Ezenwa said, “notices of demolition of 320 stalls from the state Ministry of Trade, Commerce, Market and Wealth Creation in collaboration with Star-Unic Enterprises Limited were pasted on shops on a Sunday without any arrangement for the affected traders’ relocation.
“The state government imposed a stall levy of N12,200 per shop in the market and the leaders increased the levy to N13,200. We will not pay anything above what government stipulated.”
The protesters called on the Governor, Willie Obiano to intervene to avert impending crises.
Addressing the protesters through the Crown Prince, Obi Orizu, Igwe Orizu III, called for calm, assuring that their complaints would be given the attention it deserved.
The monarch promised to schedule a meeting with Nnewi North council chairman, Nzuko-Ora (Nnewi town union), other stakeholders, including the traders to look into the matter.
Reacting, the chairman of the market association, Mr. Christopher Osuchukwu, said the traders were served three months notice, which was meant to remove illegal structures in the market, construct drainages and create access roads.
He, however, denied raising the stall charge above what the government asked traders to pay, challenging the accusers of his leadership to produce a receipt to back up their claims.