By Chidinma Ikenna -Imoeze
The chairman of Abakpa Main Market, Comr. Christopher Eze, has narrated how he was unjustly removed as the chairman of main market by the State government.
Mr. Eze who was duly elected as the chairman in 2017, revealed to The Voice that he doesn’t know the offence he committed before he was removed.
Stating that he heard of his removal on radio, which stated that the entire executive members were sacked based on their inability to settle leadership crisis in the market.
Mr. Eze debunked the allegations of financial misappropriation leveled against him, he hinted that there was never a time he or his executive was linked to any financial recklessness stressing that traders in the market revolted against the decision being that his position was elective and still had more than two years for his tenure to elapse.
The embattled chairman further said that when he received the information that his supporters were questioning the cause of his removal, he quickly called them to order believing that government is superior and would not like to be linked with negative result of the aftermath of any demonstration.
He added that he had enquired of the cause of his removal which no cogent reason has been given but would always support whoever was to succeed him.
According to him, “The idea of my removal as a case of financial misappropriation is not true; rather, what I heard over the radio was that the executive was removed because of the crisis in the market that we were unable to settle. We don’t have any problem with the ruling government.
“It will interest you to know that some of the traders revolted because they knew that my position was an elective one and we were elected on 27th of November 2017 which I have lasted one year and eight months remaining two years and four months for my tenure to elapse. But what I have to say over my removal is that government is superior.
“When the announcement was made, I quickly rallied round and asked why and what led to the termination of my tenure but up till now, nobody has served me any letter asking me to resign or handover but, they announced it over the radio and accompanied it with SA to the Governor on market development to come and take over from me which I handed over yesterday evening.
“As concerned the account preparation of all our financial transactions, I have them and have presented same but I asked our supporters to calm down when they tried challenging the order that my position was an elective one. I had to intervene because I know that any negative result would be linked to me. Moreover, no trader has ever reported our executive or have we ever been questioned of any ill transaction.
“I called every of our supporters to keep supporting the government and I am giving whoever is to succeed me my support.” he said.
Meanwhile, traders of Abakpa main market Abakaliki earlier protested over the removal, and imposition of a new chairman, Hon. Kerian Ofoke.
The group who shut down all their shops following the forceful removal also closed up all the major entrances into the market and were seen pasting placards on lock up shops with inscriptions such as “No to SA our Market is peaceful”, “we don’t want SA on Market, our market is peaceful”, “we love your good work our digital Governor.”
According to the Special Assistant to the governor on Border Peace and Internal Security, Hon. Okoro Stanley Emegha, while addressing newsmen, stated that Mr. Christopher was suspended following his recalcitrant behaviour to obey the government directive and hand over official duty to the new leadership, adding that he was also accused of financial misappropriation which led to his suspension and the appointment of a new leadership.
He told journalists that, Mr. Eze has been arrested and taken to the police to explain while he chose to cause public nuisance in the market which is contrary to the peaceful effort of the State government.
“There is an uprising, the leadership of the market changed, the market chairman was supposed to hand over to the new chairman, but he is having problems handing over. But it has been controlled.
“The traders said the chairman ordered them to close their shops which was not right, that is why he has been apprehended and he is under the police custody now. He has no such right at all to ask for the closure of the market. The chairman was never impeached he was suspended based on misappropriation,” he said.
Speaking with one of the traders, Mr. Ajah Hilary narrated that he was bewildered when he came to the market and met everywhere under lock and key and stressed that all the traders were confused but believed that the action was not unconnected with the leadership imbroglio in the market.
Another trader, Mr. Ogbonnaya Eze aka Marshall, revealed to our reporter that the incident all started on Friday, when they had a peaceful meeting with the SA on Market on issues pertaining the affairs of the market.
According to him, the meeting ended peacefully but unfortunately, that same Friday night, it was announced on radio that the chairman has been sacked and was to hand over official documents to the SA on market.
Adding that the next day, the chairman was locked out of his office without any prior notice from the government or from the SA on market.
He described the chairman as a peaceful and honest man, who has always coordinated the affairs of the traders well. The therefore appealed to government to reveal to the traders the reason for the sudden change of leadership in the market, as the chairman’s tenure has not elapsed and cannot be sacked since his position was based on election and not by appointment.
Stating, “Our chairman is very genuine; he is an honest man and cannot do what the government has leveled against him. If they have any prove of misappropriation of fund, they should bring it to the market, we have executives, the government should verify first with the executive, let us know what our chairman has committed with prove before removing him” he said.