We'll resist any plans to demolish our shops - Onitsha traders vow

We’ll resist any plans to demolish our shops – Onitsha traders vow

No fewer than 150 traders of Progress Market Extension in Onitsha, Anambra State have vowed to resist any attempt to demolish their shops by Local Government Authority.

They alleged plans to disposes them of their legally acquired shops on the pretence of clearing the shops from the drainage system, and to offer same portions to highest bidders.

Chairman Transition Committee, Onitsha South Local Government Area, Mr Emeka Orji, had issued the traders warning notice tagged, “Final Notice to Remove shops at Progress Market Extension near Haruna Street Odoakpu Onitsha”

Responding to the letter, the traders, through their lawyers, Chief Ikenna Egbuna, SAN, and Mr. C.M. Obijagwa, Esq, called on Governor Chukwuma Soludo to prevail on the Chairman to halt the planned demolition.

They also urged Commissioner of Police not to allow Police Area Command Onitsha, Commander 302 Artillery Regiment Onitsha and the Commander Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corp, (NSCDC) to be used in carrying out the exercise.

The protesters, trading at Haruna, Niger and Ifejika Streets, Odoakpu Onitsha, maintained that their shops were neither built on drainage system where expansion work was being carried out, nor obstructing ongoing construction of a bridge in the area.

The letter partly reads, “The project contractor have not informed our clients, the traders of any further demolition, as they have already demolished some stalls that are on the drainage system. 

“We wonder why the Onitsha South council authority wants to carry out further demolition that informed his letter to us.

“We appeal to the Governor, Police, Army and NSCDC to call the Onitsha South LGA Chairman to order and to give peace a chance in our market.

“We also ask security agencies they are planning to use to avoid being involved in any act that will cause break down of law and order in Onitsha.

“We are paying all the necessary levies and taxes to the State and local government and we are ready to stop any body trying to dispossess us under any guise of our market shops.”

In another letter by their lawyers Chief Egbuna, SAN, the traders said that they got approval of both the Onitsha South Local Government and Anambra State Government to construct their shops after the Town Engineer and HOD, Works and the then Unit Head, Environmental Health, in the council area had given their approval for construction of the shops, wondering why anybody will be planning to dispossess them of their shops.

The traders provided the Onitsha South Local Government Shop Construction Approval letters for Progress Market Extension, dated September 5, 2013,  May 12, 2015, and Application for reconstruction of 14 shops in dated February 5, 2018, just as they gave newsmen, the Council Area, Confirmation of the Ownership of Shops letter dated July 24, 2020, issued by the LGA authority to some traders including, Mr. Edozie Orji, Facemore Nigeria Limited, Mr. Emmanuel Idoko & Leonard Okorie, Mr. Eric Uwaoma, Mr. Christian Orji, Mr. Agu Onyeka Joseph and Mr. Monday Nwokoye and seven others.

Chief Egnuna, SAN, in a letter on behalf of his clients to the Transition Chairman Onitsha South Council Area, told him that why he had to write him before taking any personal legal action against him.

According to him, “Our clients are in receipt of Clearance / Approval letters for construction dated 12th May 2015 and other documents from Onitsha South LGA and Anambra State government granting them permission to construct their shops”

“May we bring to your notice that the subject matter of your letter is subject of litigation in Appeal No CA/AWK/263/2021, which Onitsha South LGA testified in the High Court 1 Onitsha.

“We are surprised that the Respondent in that Appeal is sponsoring the Onitsha South Local Government to demolish our clients market shops. He is trying to use Onitsha South Local Government to obtain a remedy that he knows is not attainable to him in Court.

“Be reminded that every construction in the market were done with the approval of the Council Area and the State government. You will be in contempt of Court if you dare carry out the demolition, and we will have the option of proceeding to court against you in your personal capacity.”

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