About two thousand traders in the Ebonyi State international market have cried out over the alleged illegal demolition of their shops by agents of the government.
The traders who are majorly yam sellers located at lot two (2) of the international market, called out the state government for the alleged extortion they endure in the market
One of the traders who spoke on conditions of anonymity said the illegal demolition of their shops was done after the payment of over fifty thousand (N50,000) demanded from them by the governor’s special assistant on market development, Ngozi Obichukwu.
Another trader, a widow, also accused the governor’s special assistant of masterminding the demolition, stressing that the demolition will increase the pain, hardship and sufferings of traders.
The women claimed over two thousand traders paid fifty thousand (N50,000) each for the allocation of the shops, which is currently being demolished on the alleged instructions of the governor’s aide.
One trader who narrated her ordeal in tears, petitioned Governor David Umahi for immediate intervention, stressing that many of the yam sellers borrowed huge loans from banks and financial institutions to build the shops that are now being demolished by the government.
The traders also alleged that they are forced to pay fifty naria (N50) every day as a toll even after the initial payment of fifty thousand naria had been made.
The Chairperson of the yarn dealers association at the International market, Chinwe Umeh told newsmen that many of the traders are yet to repay the loans they collected.
Umeh said the shop allocation fee already paid will expire by next October and that the governor’s aide, Ngozi Obichukwu didn’t give them prior information before the demolition of the shops.
Umeh said: “we thank the governor for bringing us out from our former shops where our yams worth millions of naria were destroyed by heat. We were happy about the allocation of these new shops. Our yams are no longer destroyed and we are comfortable here. But unfortunately, we saw some men who came and said that they were directed to demolish the shop, because, the shops defaced the international market standard. We need the intervention of the governor” she stressed.
In a swift reaction, the special assistant to the governor on market development, Ngozi Obichukwu, said the shops were demolished by the instructions of the governor, noting that the shops defaced the international market standard.
According to her: “whatever they are talking about is their business, and I don’t support evil. I pitied them because the shops are not inside. They paid money to the government account and not me, the evidence is there.
“The reasons why the government is demolishing their shops is because they are yet to roof the shops and it is defacing the international market” she stated.