Soludo seals, unseals Anambra market, summons fleeing leader over alleged IGR diversion

Anambra State government has sealed the Odera Shopping Complex/Market Awka, following alleged disappearance of the Market Chairman, Emmanuel Nwonwu to explain allegations of non-remittance of market levies to government coffers. 

The sealing was at the instance of tax/revenue compliance enforcement team of Anambra Internal Revenue Service (AIRS) operating through a task force called Unified Hybrid Enforcement Team (UHBET), Anambra Central Zone led by Evaristus Offor.            

The governnent officials were shocked by demand of some of the traders for the unsealing of the market, who claimed not to have been defaulting in paying their fees/levies to government through their Chairman.  

Daily Vendor gathered that trouble ensued when governnent enforcement team demanded to see the market Chairman to ascertain the veracity of claims by the traders that they were not owing, but Nwonwu was not sighted in the market.

While the chairman’s phone was said to have ranged out after several calls were placed on him by government officials, his Vice, Chief Ikechukwu Ugwuoke reportedly assembled some stakeholders and traders for a chat with governnent officials.

Our correspondent learnt the meeting yielded fruits with decision of temporary un-sealing of the market, while the Chairman should be given up to Monday, March 4, 2024 to appear before the governnent officials at AIRS (Revenue House) with receipts of purportedly-made payments, failing which the market would be re-sealed.  

Speaking to newsmen, Ugwuoke described sealing of the market as double tragedy which he blamed on “insensitive” attitude of Nwonwu to the plight of the traders who, according to him, have been witnessing business decline occasioned by prevailing harsh economic conditions.        

He appreciated government officials for un-sealing the market, stressing that time had come for stakeholders and traders to take their destiny in their hand.  

Secretary of Odera Market, Emeka Nwagbala confirmed that some traders paid, but were not issued with receipt of payments, regretting that the development was not in line with provisions of Market’s Constitution and accounting principle. 

On his part, pioneer Chairman of the market, Ozo Chinweze Ijomah accused Nwonwu of running the market as private entity and frustrating efforts to hold election over two years after expiration of his tenure.        

 He sought Governor Soludo’s intervention, including setting up an audit panel to examine administrative and financial condition of the market for the period of ten years Nwonwu held sway.   

Also speaking, a stakeholder in the market, Humphrey Onuorah alleged that Nwonwu had been severally accused of running the market affairs without any known market official bank account and signatories as provided by the Constitution.

Onuorah, one time Chairman of Task Force on Security Fee Collection, while confirming he paid for 2023, brandished the paper issued to him by Nwonwu as evidence of payment receipt pending issuance of official receipt, but was rejected by governnent officials as unacceptable.   

He accused Nwonwu of high-handedness, divide-and-tactics, arms-twisting running illegal administration, corrupt tendencies, arbitrary collection of revenue without issuance of receipts and failure to account for his stewardship, threats to lives of opponents, among others.

He called on govermnent to set up a Caretaker Committee to run the market and set machinery in motion for the conduct of election in the market.

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