…as Market chair accuses opposition of allowing construction of illegal shops in the market
Crisis rocking Onitsha Bridge head market, Anambra State has deepened following accusations and counter accusations between embattled chairman of the market, Hon. Chinedu Ezekweike Akweke and 11 out of 13-man Caretaker Committee members of the market.
Briefing newsmen on the crisis, the chairman accused four of the 11-man opposition, of allowing construction of illegal shops in the market and collecting #.1million from each of the owners of such shops within this period that the market is not in session, (holiday), warning that they should be held responsible if any catastroph happens to the market.
He said, “If anything happens to the market, like fire outbreak/burglary, the key players, comrade Peter Okala, Chief Nobert Okoli, Bonaventure Ucheagwu and Chinedu Ezekwele, and others, should be held responsible and I have informed the security operatives and the 27 units of the market.
“I got information that they threaten the market security that they are members of the Caretaker Committee of the market but represent the Onitsha South Local Government, which may not be true, and collect #.1million from each of those that are constructing structures//shops in the market.
“I also want to warn them that if they are seen in the market again they will be treated like criminals because there is no way they can come to the market during this holiday period.”
Akweke further noted that his attention was drawn to a petition by the opposition against him, of extortion of #1.6million from those whose shops were demolished to gain access by the carterpiller to quench the inferno during the incident of chemical explosion at the drug (Ogbogwu)section of the market.
“I can’t sign any documents alone, I am not the treasurer or financial secretary. Those who said I collected #1.6million and #50,000 from each of those fire victims reconstructing their shops before work was stopped, let them show proof of such. Those victims have denied such allegations and you can verify.
“The anger of the opposition is because I refused to share to them money generated in the market for infrastructural (projects) development of the market. I am ready to clear myself. We pay stallage fees to banks and there is evidence of payment,” he further explained.
In a swift reaction, two of the opposition members he accused, comrade Peter Okala, who is the Public Relations Officer, PRO of the market, and financial secretary, Chief Nobert Okoli, that spoke on behalf of other opposition members, accused the embattled chairman of extorting over #4million from fire victims and #1.6million from those whose shops were demolished to gain access, excluding #150,000 he collected from each of 10 traders building shops in the market during this yuletide holiday, totaling #2million.
“If the chairman says we are collecting money from the builders, who authorized the building this holiday. We only stopped work and told those he sent to do the job that they can only work when the market is in session to avoid any criminality. It is our duty to ensure the safety of the market from now till 10th of January, when the market will reopen.
“The chairman should render account of stewardship for the period we are in office, he smiles home every week with #40,000 he collects as miscellaneous expenditure and personally pockets about #7million, the revenue from five major windows every month.
“We guard the market because we don’t trust him and that is why we say no construction of structures in the market until we are done with him, and he has embarked on another building of shops after the governor ordered him to stop work by reconstruction of shops of fire victims which he told the traders that government asked him to embark upon when government did not ask him to reconstruct,” the duo posited.