Disclosure News

Factual Reportage

By Uzo Ebele

Crisis is currently rocking Ochanja Central Market, Onitsha, Anambra State, following accusations and counter accusations by the market chairman, Chief Bonaventure Muo and a rival group reportedly led by Chief Nwabueze Umeh, and supported by Chief Clifford Ilodiuba and Chief Onyeka Abazu.

Briefing newsmen the market chairman disclosed that attachment shop he procured in 2008 was demolished by the opposition who collaborated with some Onitsha South local government officials to perpetuate the act, on the excuse that the attachment shop blocked a market line.

” Clifford Ilodiuba called the press, showed them the attachment. In a social media making the round on the demolition of my attachment shop I saw Chief Onyeka Abazu with a hammer in his hand demolishing the attachment. I made a report against the perpetrators at Onitsha police Area Command.

“It is allegation against me by Clifford that I built the attachment in November last year but I bought the attachment 16years ego, 2008, it was false against me. I even put new door to have access still they went and removed it.

“All these attacks on me is because I changed the narrative, before I came in as chairman the market was generating #20 million yearly but in 2022, I generated over #72 million naira because I told the Commissioner that I will increase the revenue base. Even this 2023, approximately #90 million will be realized because we are still collecting.

“So the market money had been going into private purse until I came in and channeled it to state government. Earlier the opposition refused to pay their stallage fees but I forced them to pay and they started paying. That is my offence, that is why they want my seat by all means. That I refused to share the money generated in the market,” he alleged.

“My efforts in IGR resulted in Ochanja scoring second position in the whole markets in Anambra State. The record is there and like I said, I will increase the amount by this 2023 financial year to about #90 million,” Muo affirmed.

On the collapsed building at Oduigbo section of the market which about two people lost their lives, Chief Muo described it as unfortunate disclosing that he has no business with the contract to build shops in the market but rather the contract to build modern shops was in the hand of those in Awka, state capital.

“Chiefs Nwabueze Umeh and Onyeka Abazu, mobilized the women to protest against the council chairman, Hon. Emeka Orji, and myself that we were responsible for the collapse of the building,” Muo stated.

In a swift reaction when contacted, the trio denied the allegations by Chief Muo, and called on Governor Chukwuma Soludo to sack the market Chairman for peace to reign in the market.

In the words of Chief Nwabueze Umeh, (a.k.a.Ofia fuluego), “The market chairman is jealous of me that it is through me that over 90 per cent of goods that come into the market pass through me. A serving Senator brought him from overseas and made him chairman of the market, he was never a member of the market until recently.

“Chief Muo goes against market rules and more than three times has pleaded to me for forgiveness after financing petitions against me because he knows our group is in majority that any election conducted in the market our group must win.

“He goes about terrorising people with securitymen that we, traders employed. He constructed an illegal shop and we petitioned to the governor who munited to the Onitsha South council chairman, Hon. Emeka Orji, who in turn came, saw the illegal shop and marked it, ‘Remove’, but the market chairman, on three occasions refused to remove it. Then based on the order of the governor, it was removed, because it blocked a line.

“Muo has been terrorising me, causing problem everywhere, all protests and complaints is because Muo doesn’t know how to manage market issues. He was just brought into the market and his wife has repeatedly asked him to leave me alone.

“He removed the solar panel and battery that power our market at night for light and the executives went to his house, demanding for return of the items and he returned the panel and has not returned the battery. The Distinguished Senator who brought him told him that he is stubborn,” said Umeh.

In their contribution, the duo of Iloduba and Abazu, corroborated the position of Nwabueze Umeh insisting that Muo should be removed for another person that knows the market terrain very well to end the crisis ravaging the market.

According to Ilodiuba, ” I am one of the founders of the market having spent over 24 years in the development of the market, have my investments here and as such can not be part of destruction of the market by not paying my stallage fees, I pay and have receipts for payment and I believe others do so, if not we will not have scored second in IGR in the state.

“The market chairman constructed illegal shop and I petitioned Governor Soludo who minited to the council chairman and he came and wrote ‘remove,’ but Muo refused and government demolished it, not us, as he alleged. He then took us to Police Area Command and we told the police that it was the government that removed the structure not us.

“Muo collects illegal levies from those who block the road with their wares, uses security to intimidate traders. So it was when Muo came into the market that we started having problem and our governor as a no nonsense man brought him to order by demolishing illegal shop he built.

“The governor is Solution to our problem and we urge him to remove Chief Muo as chairman in the interest of peace and harmony in the market,” he pleaded.

Speaking, Chief Abazu, who is one of the Ochanja market union chairmen, accused Chief Muo of erecting illegal shop that blocked a line in the market adding that repeated plea for him to remove the structure fell on deaf ears until the government did it by itself.

“He then reported us to the police and we told the police that we were not the ones that demolished it but the state government. This Muo now collects illegal levies from those who block wares on the road and moves about with large number of security men to intimidate us, that employed the security men.

“We plead to the governor to replace him for peace to reign as there is fear of uncertainty in the market. People don’t freely move in the market. A market chairman refused the order of government asking that illegal structure be removed and he did not want to obey.

“We thanked the governor for coming to our rescue but we still need him to be removed as chairman. Before he is removed, he should return all the solar panel and battery he is using in his house and other items that belong to the market. Our old transformer he said is being repaired has not been seen up till now,” Abazu alleged.

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