From David Onwuchekwa, Nnewi
There is rising tension at the River Niger Bridge Head market as a result of a leadership crisis between two rival executives vying for control of the popular market.
At the last count, eleven people have been injured on both sides due to the crisis, while some leaders have fled the market, accusing the Anambra State Government of fueling the crisis through its Commissioner for Trade and Commerce, Mr Uchenna Okafor.
A petition signed by one of the factions’ leaders, Sir Peter Okala, Secretary, and Onumegbungwu as Chairman, and made available to reporters in Awka and Onitsha alleged that a section of the traders had disobeyed various court orders.
‘Our attention has been drawn to the unpleasant situation of worrisome disobedience of various orders of the court with impunity by Mr Uchenna Okafor, who doubles as Hon Commissioner for Trade and Commerce and building Contractors of various plazas with Sunday Obinze and his group of gangsters at Bridge Head Market, Onitsha
‘On 17th February 2021, Mr Uchenna Okafor had a meeting with the plaintiff and some stakeholders at his Awka office where he further brought his words of intimidation and threat to traders that he may be forced to retain Sunday Obinze and his group we no longer want as a caretaker committee on the troubled market ‘in order to protect his investments in the market,’ the petition read.
On Friday 19th February 2021, the said Uchenna Okafor in total disregard to all known norm, rule, and the grand judicial process went ahead to carry out all his threat and assault.
When contacted, the Commissioner for Trade and Commerce, Mr Uchenna Okafor contended that the State government did not have any business meddling with the internal matters of the market unless when it was a threat to law and order.
Okafor also dismissed any attack on the traders by the government, adding that the current executive of the market association was chosen by the traders themselves and that those making agitations and allegations were not speaking the minds of the traders.