Jeff Amechi Agbodo, Onitsha
The President of Anambra State Amalgamated Traders Association (ASMATA) Chief Ikechukwu Ekwegbalu has said that the union did not ban prayers in the markets in the state.
He said that the association during its meeting with markets chairmen and secretaries in the state agreed to suspend the weekly prayers in markets for monthly prayers in all the markets in the state.
Ekwegbalu who disclosed this while speaking with our correspondent, said that his leadership never banned prayers in the markets as reported in some media platforms, noted that the union considered complaints from traders of extortion by touts during the weekly prayers and decided to have the prayers once in a month across markets in the state.
He said the shift from weekly to monthly became necessary following alleged extortion and loses incurred by the customers who visit various markets from far places.
“This move became very necessary because we have discovered that some boys use this practice to extort market men and women regularly of their hard-earned resources.
Ekwegbalu frowned at the attitude of involving the police or Ministry of Trade and Commerce when issues that should be resolved within the market leadership arose.
He urged traders to seek redress through the appropriate processes within the ambits of the constitution when there were disagreements.
The ASMATA boss also condemned revenue racketeering, urging leaders of various market union to dully remit revenues generated from their respective markets into the state government coffers.
He said that any market matter should, first of all, be brought to his office where he would handle it and if he fails, then he would be the one to take it to the commissioner for final resolution.
On the issue of payment of stillage fees, he said there would audit to know the numbers of all the shops in major markets in the state such as Onitsha Main Market, Ochanja market etc, to ensure that the market leaders remit all the monies meant for the markets.
Ekwegbalu however, warned the market leaders not to exceed three months in the payment of stillage fees, after which it would attract a penalty.