Jeff Amechi Agbodo, Onitsha
There was tension in Onitsha as security agents and Taskforce of Ministry of Trade and Commerce stormed Modebe Shopping Plaza demolishing structures and ordering the traders to relocate to new market at Ogbunike in Oyi local government area of Anambra state.
The Taskforce and joint security team of Army, police, Civil Defense and Vigilance group had stormed the plaza at about 4am with bulldozers to demolish some structures and ordered the traders to move to a new market built at Ogbunike for provision and cosmetics.
The traders who traveled for the festivities came back to resume business in the morning to found out that their shops were turned to rubble with heavy security men shooting indiscriminately to scare the traders and blocked the entrance of the plaza and menace street.
The situation created a lot of panic and tension as traders who just resumed business after New Year celebration were stranded, some traders were seen removing their wares that was touched by the demolition while other were not allowed to gain entrance to their shops.
It was gathered that suspected hoodlums hijacked the situation injured a security man at the plaza who wanted to stop them from looting people’s shops.
The Chairman of the Ministry of Commerce Taskforce Mr. Celestine Anere said that the ministry of Trade and Commerce had informed the traders to relocate to the new Provision and Cosmetics market built at Ogbuinke but the traders refused which informed their action to enforce their relocation.
He said that the Taskforce seized the opportunity to demolish illegal structures along the major roads and street for easy flow of traffic. “The essence of this to decongest the roads and to ensure that business is being conducted in orderly manner in a market not along the road which constitute nuisance”.
But the leadership of the Article Dealers Association Modebe plaza Mr. Beed Iwunze, Mr. Joseph Chukwubuike and Donald Udemba who expressed shock on the invasion of the shops by the security agents ordering them to relocate or seize to do business at the plaza.
They said that they were not part of those who built market at Ogbunike for provision and cosmetics but had acquired land for their own market since they were into article trading and wondered why government wanted to force them to move to a market where they had no shop.
“Where do they want us to move to, we don’t sell provision and cosmetics, we sell articles, how can they force us to move to market we did not built to become tenant. They should force the union that built the market to move to the place not us because we have a place acquired to built our own market.
“Look at the way government is treating the people, we just came back from festivities. We hope to do business here to pay our children school fees in this January but to our greatest surprise some of us were still in the village yet to return back and their shops were demolished and those around were stopped from opening their shops for business, they ordered us to move to the new market” they stated.