Protesting traders from the commercial hub of Onitsha on Tuesday brought government activities in the Anambra Government House to a momentary halt as they stormed the seat of government over alleged imposition of leadership on them by government agents, Ikeugonna Eleke reports.
The traders, who came in their numbers carrying placards with inscriptions to depict their grouse, accused the State Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Dr. Christian Madubuko, of causing confusion in their markets by hijacking its leadership structure.
The traders, who particularly came from Onitsha Electronics Market, heaped verbal abuses on the commissioner, accusing him of not only hijacking the market’s leadership and installing an unpopular one, but extorting traders through unapproved levies.
Mr Simon Okonkwo who led the protesting traders, said the commissioner, months back, dissolved the leadership of the market under one Izuchukwu and established a Caretaker Committee to oversee the activities of the traders and while they were arranging to hold election, the commissioner returned Izuchukwu again as the leader.
He said, ‘The commissioner is causing confusion in the market. We can’t understand why somebody can be talking from two sides of his mouth.
‘This commissioner came to the market and instituted a caretaker committee to oversee the market, but shortly he came back and dissolved the Caretaker Committee without any explanation to us.
‘The next thing we heard was that he had reinstated the former leadership in place before the caretaker committee was set and asked us to start organising election for Saturday.
‘This is arbitrariness. We can’t take it from anybody. That’s why we are here to let the governor know this development and call his commissioner to order because we are going to resist this imposition.’
The traders, who made efforts to gain access into the government house, were stopped by security personnel, causing them to commence thorough search of visitors, including workers, before they were allowed in.
The angry traders said they suspected that the commissioner had an ulterior motive he wanted to perpetuate in the market as he first changed the usual venue of their elections, taking it to Ikpeazu Stadium in Onitsha, which, they said, fell in a separate local government area.
They called on the state governor, Chief Willie Obiano, to reign in his commissioner as they would not tolerate his overbearing attitude towards traders in the market.
One of the traders, Mr Felix Ezinnadu, alleged that Madubuko had become known for his overbearing activities in markets around the state.
But the commissioner, while speaking to Fides in reaction to the allegation, said he was confident that some of the market leaders were not happy with him because he exposed their fraudulent nature, including unearthing fake government receipts which they used to steal government revenue.
He said the state government had lost millions of Naira to corrupt revenue collectors in the market, and that he had already written to the State Director of DSS to arrest one of the market leaders. He said they were probably the reasons they were fighting him.