By: Awesome Ekene
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Trade and Commerce, Anambra State, Barr. Ike Samuel on Thursday alleged that a group, Integrity Group, that composed of Representatives of all traders in the state, was a sponsored group established to tarnish the good image of the Commissioner for Trade, Commerce, Markets and Wealth Creation, Hon. Uchenna Okafor.
Ike stated this while reacting to the allegations levelled against the Commissioner by the group who also demanded for the sack or swap of the Commissioner to another Ministry .
Briefing newsmen, the permanent secretary said the so called Integrity Group has no fixed address or phone number to know how to get to them and iron out issues with them.
He said, “The petition they wrote to His Excellency, Governor Willie Obiano which was minuted to us we replied by telling the Governor that the group has no fixed address and as such can not be reached.
“Accusing the Commissioner that he collects #4million from each of the new shops being constructed at Ochanja market and #2million at Bridgehead market is blatant lie.
“You can’t sack somebody based on frivilous allegation,how can you say Commissioner should be sacked when the allegations are baseless. Maybe because you heard somebody wants to run for a political office and you are paid to ruin him.
“The Commissioner has brought relative peace in all the markets in the state, they can not succeed, we work with the instructions of the governor.
“The owners of the shops at Ochanja market are doing the construction by themselves and we only give approval where little sum is paid to government and not the huge sum they claim.
“At the Bridge head market I am sure it is a modern abateur that is being constructed and it is not even this Ministry that is doing that but Ministry of Agriculture and of course with the approval of Environment and we are aware. It is even outside the market at Bridgehead but if there are shops aside the abateur, we have to find out.
“Between now and month of March we will conduct elections in all the markets due for election, so the allegation that the commissioner also collects money to reinstate caretaker committee members and has asked them to present delegate list is faulse and unfounded.
“At the main market no shops are being constructed rather owners of some shops are making repairs of leaked roofs and those close to refuse dump sites are building walls to protect their shops from refuse dumps.”
Meanwhile, the Integrity Group, had in its briefing to newsmen accused the commissioner of collecting huge sum of money from traders to help him finance his House of Representatives ambition.
According to the group’s chairman, Obinna Madu, who was flanked by his secretary, Onyeka Udeogalanya, “we will embark on protest to Awka if the Commissioner is not sacked or swapped to another Ministry.
He said, “Money he has collected from the traders is far above what he had wanted it for, it is now enough for governorship expenditure.
“Main market refuse dump he converted to shops and has put doors there. He collects #4million for each shop being constructed at Ochanja market and Bridge head #2million for each shop.
“The ASMATA president , Chief Ekwegbaru, is a Yes Man, he has no say and is used to weaken the traders’ umbrella body, he can not take decision on any issue
He is just there to while away time, he is no force and he knows it that he is a no body in traders’ affairs.
” Markets with caretakers have been promised reinstatement and directed to submit their delegate list by the Commissioner after payment of huge sum” he hinted.”