Traders in the electrical/electronics market in old Nnewi-Onitsha Road, Nnewi, Anambra State, have protested closure and relocation of the market.
The protesters, about 2,000, complained the new site was not built to their taste.
Chairman of Diago/Okeke Line Kenneth Offodum claimed security operatives did not allow them to access their stalls to pick their belongings. He said traders rejected the new site because they were not consulted. Offodum added that the plaza was not built for electrical/electronics dealers, who he said must be owners of, and must build their own site.
He said: “Nobody gave us notice that we must relocate to anywhere today. We were told the Commissioner for Trade, Uchenna Okafor, gave the directive. Yet, he hasn’t come to see us, except some days ago when fire gutted our stalls and goods worth millions of naira were lost.
“After sympathising with us, Okafor said there were no plans to relocate us now. He said his office was still consulting to know what to do. But we are surprised to hear it is the same commissioner who has instructed that we be forced out of this place. We suspect our former chairman, Ugochukwu Udemezue, of masterminding the plot to force us to relocate to Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu plaza. His tenure has expired and he does not allow a fresh election …”
Offodum insisted they would relocate to a land large enough for expansion, and develop it themselves. “We will not leave our current market site where we are tenants, only to relocate to another place and continue to be tenants. We reject that because we know the nature of our business and what is good for us.”
Attempts by newsmen to reach Okafor for comments last night proved abortive as he was unreachable.
Vice Chairman of Obienu/Okeke Line Chidi Udemezue, who deals in multi-media and computers, said he lost all his goods to the fire, lamenting that ‘the only sympathy he got from the government is forceful relocation unceremoniously’.