From Jeff Amechi
There was tension in Ochanja Central Market, Onitsha, Anambra State, yesterday, following the arrest of the president of the market, Chief Nelson Ojukwu by security operatives from Force Headquarters, Abuja, over a petition.
The operatives had arrived the Central Police Station (CPS), Onitsha, and invited Ojukwu to the station through the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) for a chat. But on arrival, they told him that he was under arrest and immediately whisked him away to Abuja.
When the news that Ojukwu had been arrested and was being ferried to Abuja filtered into the market, the traders closed their shops, gathered at the market premises and were about to start a demonstration in protest against the development when the secretary of the market, Mr. Peter Chibuike and other executive members intervened and directed them to suspend action.
But they gave the police 48 hours within which to release Ojukwu or they would proceed with the protest.
Chibuike, who spoke with newsmen on the development, expressed optimism that Ojukwu would be released before the traders would be tempted to commence the protest.
The Secretary, who was flanked by other executive members, including the treasurer, Samuel Idoko; assistant secretary, Emeka Obioko; provost I, Attanacious Udezi, and provost II, Tochukwu Aghaji, said: “I can’t guarantee the continued control of the traders who are panting because of the arrest of Ojukwu”.
He disclosed that it was one of the traders, whom he described as a deviant, that wrote a petition to the Force Headquarters against Ojukwu.
Describing the arrest as injustice and intimidation, Chibuike said: “The market would boil if police fail to release our president that was whisked to Abuja. I calmed the traders who wanted to stage a violent demonstration after which I spoke with the president on phone and he said that he would return today. After today, if we did not see him, we will commence protest”.
“How can policemen from Abuja come here to arrest our leader over a petition from somebody that was supposed to be in police custody in Onitsha over an offence he committed in the market last month. But he went to Abuja to raise frivolous allegations against our president, which made police to arrest him. It is not acceptable.”