Aloysius Attah, Onitsha
Pandemonium broke out yesterday at the Onitsha Bridge Head Drug Market, Ogbogwu, when armed vigilance group members and some thugs invaded the prayer arena and disrupted the weekly prayer programme organised by market evangelism group in the market.
Following the invasion, the Chairman, Board of Trustees of the market evangelism group, Bro. Benjamin Akudo was whisked away by the armed vigilance group members and detained at the Onitsha Main Market White House.
Angered by the development, some traders in the market went on a peaceful protest, which led to Akudo’s release after the intervention of the President General of Anambra State Markets Amalgamated Traders Union (ASMATA), Chief Ikechukwu Ekwegbalu.
Daily Sun gathered that prior to the incident there was tension between the caretaker committee in charge of the market led by Mr. Anthony Ezioba, and the market evangelism group, as the caretaker committee had earlier planned to curtail the weekly prayer activities in the market.
Recall that the newly inaugurated administration of Chief Ekwegbalu recently placed a ban on weekly Monday line prayers and Wednesday general market prayers, saying that all markets in the state would henceforth hold prayers once in a month.
But the Ogbo Ogwu market evangelism group faulted the unilateral decision, arguing that such a ban was an infringement on their freedom of worship, as well as against the yearnings of many traders in the market who insist that they enjoy enormous benefits from the weekly spiritual exercise. Akudo who spoke with the Daily Sun after his release called on the Anambra State Government to allow traders exercise their freedom of worship unhindered, noting that they were not compelling anybody to join them in the weekly prayers. He also called for a democratic election into the market leadership of the Onitsha Bridge Head Drug Market, saying that the appointed committee members have lost touch with the feelings of the traders.
When contacted, Chief Ekwegbalu confirmed that he ordered for the release of Akudo, adding that the BOT chairman has been told to liaise with his fellow members of market evangelism to choose a day suitable for them to hold monthly prayer sessions since it is in the best interest of the traders.