No fewer than 500 shoe dealers under the aegis of Emodi Shoe Dealers Association (ESDA) at Ochanja Market, Onitsha, Anambra State, took to the major roads in the commercial city to protest non-allocation of land to them.
This newspaper gathered that they also kicked against the non-refund of the 1.5 million naira paid to their former Chairman, Chief Nwabueze Umeh, for the said land.
The land located at Oba airport site in Idemili South Local Government Area of the state which each trader paid for was intended to be used for the construction of a permanent site for the shoe dealers.
According to the traders, the payment was allegedly made five years ago.
Led by their Vice Chairman, Chizoba Nwokedi and Chief Taskforce officer, Onyekachukwu Anigbo, the traders marched to the office of the General Chairman of Ochanja market, Chief Nelson Ojukwu to register their grievances before taking to the major roads.
Addressing the traders, the Chairman hailed them for maintaining a peaceful protest saying that he would invite the ESDA former chairman to know why the land was neither allocated nor refund made.
Some of the placards carried by the traders read: “Anambra Governor please come to our rescue”, “Nwabueze give us our land or money, you have not rendered account of stewardship for eight years while you were in office”, “Some of us have died because of the non-refund of the money”, among others.
The President, Anambra State Amalgamated Traders Association (AMATAS), Chief Okwudili Ezenwankwo, who also addressed the traders said the former chairman would be invited to defend himself so the truth could be ascertained.
His words: “We will invite Nwabueze and some of you to know who is saying the truth, we will know if the land is a private land or general land, I thank you people for embarking on a peaceful protest. I promise you that if at the end of the day Nwabueze is wrong, we will ensure he returns the money or give you back the land but if he fails, we will take the issue to the Governor, Willie Obiano.”
On his part, the incumbent Chairman of ESDA, Chief Leonard Umeh, accused the former Chairman of not handing over to him the assets and liabilities since he took over from him.
He said: “We are still waiting for him to hand over to us, the properties and documents relating to the market.
“We cannot, at the moment, say this is what we inherited from him and because of that, any trader that transacts business with him will be sanctioned.”
Source: News Express