Aloysius Attah, Onitsha
No fewer than 500 traders who are members of the Emodi Shoe Dealers Association (ESDA), at Ochanja Market, Onitsha, Anambra State, on Tuesday, took to the streets in a peaceful protest over non-allocation of land or refund of their N1.5 million which they alleged that their former Chairman, Chief Nwabueze (surname withheld), collected from each of them to allocate them with piece of land at Oba Airport site, Idemili South Local Government Area.
The protesters, who were led by both their Vice Chairman and Chief Taskforce officer, Chizoba Nwokedi and Onyekachukwu Anigbo, respectively, first marched to the office of the General Chairman of Ochanja market, Chief Nelson Ojukwu, who commended them for a peaceful protest adding that he would invite the ESDA former chairman to know why he would not allocate land to them or in the alternative refund them their money which according to them has lingered for about five years.
Some of the protesters carried placards with the inscriptions, “Anambra Governor please come to our rescue, Nwabueze give us our land or money, you have not rendered account of stewardship for eight years you were in office, some of us have died because of the non refund of the money” among others.
On arrival at Anambra State Markets Amalgamated Traders Association, AMATAS, office along Modebe road, they met with the President General, Chief Okwudili Ezenwankwo, who pledged to invite the former ESDA chairman to defend himself on the allegation.
“We will invite Nwabueze and some of you to know who is saying the truth, we will know if the land is a private land or general land,I thank you people for a peaceful protest and if at the end of the day Nwabueze is wrong, we will ensure he returns the money or give you back the land and if he fails we will tell Governor Willie Obiano”, he vowed.
Earlier, the incumbent Chairman of ESDA, Chief Leonard Umeh, accused the former Chairman of not handing over to him the access and liabilities since he won election.
“We are still waiting for him to hand us over the property and documents relating to the market. We cannot for now say this is what we inherited from him and because of that, any trader that transacts business with him will be sanctioned”, he warned.
Efforts made to reach the former Chairman otherwise known as Ofiafuluego proved abortive as calls made to his cell phone were not answered while he was not available when the reporter visited his office.