From Paul Osuyi, Asaba
THE dust raised by the death of three traders in Ogbe-Ijoh Market, Warri South Local Government Area of Delta State after youths allegedly burnt down the market has not settled.
The victims were said to have died out of frustration after the market was razed in April 2015 by suspected arsonists, and were now forced to be trading under harsh weather conditions.
As a result, hundreds of traders from the market in solidarity with their deceased colleagues yesterday stormed Government House, Asaba, the state capital in protest over the incident.
Bearing placards and leaves, the protesters wailed and wept, lamenting the harsh condition which they have been facing because of the intimidation from the Ijaw youths who have vowed to make life miserable for them for refusing to pay the sum of N12,000 each.
Chairman of the traders association in the market, Comrade Solomon Mathews said they have been facing intimidation from some Ijaw community boys from Warri South-West council area claiming ownership of the market.
“The boys are from Warri South-West, while the market is situated in Warri South. They burnt down the market because the traders refused to pay N12,000 which they demanded from them.
“The traders have been trading outside the market under the rain which has become serious this period and as a result we have lost three women to cold and other illnesses.
“On Tuesday, the youths came and destroyed the makeshift shed the women have been using to trade and they beat up one of the women to a state of comma who is now receiving treatment in an undisclosed hospital in Warri,” Comrade Matthew said.
He told the Chief of Staff, Mr. Tam Brisibe who led other government officials to listen to the grievances of the traders, that the Ijaws were boasting that they will make life unbearable for the traders for refusing to pay the imposed amount.
He disclosed that they have written to the Governor Ifeanyi Okowa to intervene but there has been no response, adding that the deputy governor, Barr. Kingsley Otuaro once invited the traders with the Ijaw youths to a meeting and there has been no solution.
While appealing to the state government to urgently intervene, Matthew said the traders should be allowed to rebuild the market that was burnt since April, 2015 and prevail on the Ijaw youths to stop intimidating the traders who are not in their local government area.
Responding, Mr. Brisibe said he would inform the governor who is out of the state about the plight of the traders and the government will get back to the traders as soon as possible, stressing that they should however remain peaceful in their protest.