From Tony Osauzo, Benin
The crisis in the Edo State Practicing Butchers Association, yesterday, degenerated to shooting, with the President of National Butchers Association, Chief Osamede Adun calling on the state Commissioner of Police to invite the parties before things get out of hand.
Narrating how the shooting occurred, Mr. Sunny Omokaro, a private abattoir operator and member of Edo State Vigilante, said he was returning from work when he saw some young men sent by Akhere Odigie, Chairman of the Practising Butchers Association, to invade his abattoir amid shooting into the air.
He said because he was just returning from his Vigilante duty at the time and having his gun him at the time, also fire into the air in reply and immediately called the DPO of New Benin Police Station to report the situation, following which policemen were deployed to the scene but they could not however calm the situation.
He further disclosed that not long after, Odigie led other boys to his abattoir even as the New Benin DPO also arrived and invited the warring parties to the police station.
“We were all invited to the station but the DPO later allowed Akhere and his boys to go because they are with the state government and I have been kept at the station since morning.
“Akhere is fighting me becase I refuse to give him money. He said I should pay him for any cow I slaughter. He determines how many cows are killed in Benin and that is responsible for the high cost meat in Edo”, Omokaro explained.
Meanwhile, Chief Adun who decried his name being dragged into the crisis, has expressed shock over the development, saying “When I heard that they are fighting, for the past five to six years I have not been part of them and whether they have such a union in Benin here, we don’t know because I am the National President of the National Butchers Union of Nigeria and we have been in existence for over 50 years.
“All these that they are dragging my name into it, I don’t understand it, dragging my name and mentioning the governor I don’t understand them. I have stayed clear of union matters concerning Edo State.
“I have called the Commissioner of Police to invite all of us, whether they even know me by my face.
I have slaughter houses here in Benin, they said we should not kill cows and I told my people to comply but as the national president, I have right to kill cow in my private slaughter house but these boys gave an order and I told my people to ensure compliance since they say they are now Practicing Butchers which our union don’t know.
“They know what they are fighting for so government and security agencies should invite them and find out what is going as regards butchers”, Chief Adun added.
Recall that concerned members of the Butchers association on Tuesday appealed to the State Governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki to remove the purported State Chairman,
Mr Akhere Odigie, who they alleged was not a butcher but imposed on the association by government against their wishes, five years ago.
They further alleged that the gross incompetence of Mr Akhere Odigie is costing members millions of naira, to the extent that butchers lose between N80,000 and N120,000 for each cow slaughtered in Benin City on a daily basis.
Besides, they alleged that Mr. Odigie extort monies at gun point from innocent butchers while threatening to close down the abbatoir of those who fail to pay up, boasting that he has the governor’s backing and is above the law.
“Many butchers are also indebted to banks and money lenders, besides the Cattle dealers. While some owe a minimum of N20 million others owe N40 million and above to these Cattle dealers.
“This includes women and even the Hausa people among us. Some have even sold landed properties, lands, houses and vehicles and other valuables to remain in business. Besides, all was well with us before the government imposed Mr Odigie on the association
in violation of the constitution of the Butchers association.
“We know that Odigie claims he is a relative of Governor Obaseki. That was why he imposed him on us. That is also why besides his ignorance of the code of conduct for all butchers since he was never a butcher himself, he has engaged among other illegalities, in high-handedness, abuse of office, extortion, thuggery and intimidation of members.
“Many butchers have left the public slaughter houses because their lives are at risk of the hired thugs who parade the arena daily and on the instructions of Mr. Odigie who bullies and intimidates them. Even the said Odigie regularly goes about with armed thugs and threatens innocent butchers by shooting into the air”, one of the butchers, Hajia Bilikisu Sule alleged.
Another butcher, Mr. Ahmadu Muhammad said “In spite of everything going on which is clearly wrong and out of place, the Mr Odigie keeps boasting and telling anyone who cares to listen that, no one can remove them from office because he is a relative of the State Governor.
“The present situation is unacceptable because it has put many individual butchers into huge debts running with Cattle Dealers. Butchers are all operating at a loss with huge investment and zero returns. We want Governor Obaseki to remove Odigie from office and pave the way for the conduct of a proper, open, free and fair election where qualified and competent butchers who have relevant experience can vie for offices.
“As a governor who was democratically elected in a popular election, it is only proper that Governor Obaseki will allow we butchers to benefit from the same democratic process by allowing us to hold a free and fair election to elect competent officials to run our affairs”.
But in his reaction, Odigie who explained that he is in his second term leading the association, described the allegations as lies and politically motivated.
100% Natural Herbs to Finally End Premature Ejaculation, Weak Erection and Small Manhood. Click Here Now .
“They are doing that because they have lost their battle.
We slaughter cows everyday. I just finished from a meeting now”, Odigie said, to debunk the claim that he was not a butcher.
He said his leadership has sanitized the Edo Butchers Association after breaking away from the National Butchers Association.