…as market leaders in the state threatened to mobilize for a state wide protest against the government and DSS
Anambra State Governor Chukwuma Soludo on Wednesday averted what could have been the greatest protest by traders in the State over what they called intimidation and harassment of them and their leaders.
The leaders were invited to a meeting by Anambra State Internal Revenue Service AIRS, with Ministry of Commerce and Industry on Tuesday November 7, 2022, through a letter signed by the Chairman of AIRS, Richard Nwora Madiebo, at the Training Hall of Revenue House Awka, to discuss on the operational procedures for the collection of loading and offloading of Heavy Duty Trucks Fees in the various markets in the state.
However unknown to the leaders of the market, men of the Department of State Services, DSS, were also invited for the meeting.
As the meeting was going, two market leaders from Building Material International Markets Ogidi and Aluminium and Allied Products Dealers Oguta Road Onitsha,were said to have given suggestion on the way to go about the collection of loading and offloading fees from the vehicles, to benefit both the government and the trader, to avoid crisis that may lead to break down of law and order.
Shortly after their comments, the DSS officials in the meeting were said to have pointed at them, ordering them to follow them to their office, the unsuspecting market leaders followed them and they were driven to DSS office where they discovered that they were invited for questioning by the department of state security.
Following the incident the meeting ended abruptly as other market leaders present at the meeting stormed out of the Training Hall, Revenue House Awka venue of the meeting for DSS office at Amawabia, Awka, to protest against the arrest of their colleagues, whom they felt gave genuine and sincere suggestion that will ensure crisis free toll collection on heavy duty vehicles in their markets.
Many market leaders in the state were said to have threatened that they will mobilize for a state wide protest against the government and DSS if their leaders were not released immediately, just as they expressed disappointment against the the leadership of Anambra State Markets Amalgamated Traders Association, ASMATA, for not being able to speak for the traders in the state like successive leadership of the umbrella markets body in the state had done.
As the news of the arrest of the two market leader got to their markets and lawyers of the market leaders and the market unions, the traders in their respective market started mobilizing for protest to Awka on Wednesday to register their displeasure over government action against their leaders.
Governor Soludo, who was said to have been angered when he received the information about the arrest of the market leaders, ordered that they should be immediately released, expressing sadness over the development.
Leaders of the markets in the state were said to have threatened to boycott any invitation for meeting with the Anambra State Internal Revenue Services, since making suggestions in such meetings does not go down well with government.