…Petition Abakaliki Catholic Bishop

Protesters at the government House gate

Abakpa main market women on Wednesday, February 5, stormed Ebonyi State Government House, Abakaliki, in protest of alleged none inclusion in the allocation of shops at the Margret Umahi International Market.

The women numbering over 200 were seen wailing and rolling themselves on the ground at the Government House gate.

They lamented that those who were allotted shops at the International market were traders from villages as none of them got any shop at the market despite paying N50, 000 for form.

They disclosed that on getting to the International market on Monday, they discovered that women from villages were allotted shops in the name of Abakpa main market traders.

The women also claimed that market leaders were imposed on them and as such, they have been suffering betrayals.

The women during the protest

One of the women who spoke on their behalf stated: “We are ready to move to the International market, and we like the structures the governor has put in place in the state.

“But we have been receiving conflicting reports about our relocation to the International market. Different people will come and say Governor said this and that, and what they are saying is different from what Governor Umahi told us in person.

“When we met with the Governor on December, he told us that we will move because where we are presently is not conducive. We said no problem, but what is the condition, especially for those who have shops at Abakpa main market. He said when we get there that those issues will be addressed.

“He also said he would give us shops at the International market without pay for one year and after that, we will negotiate how the payment would be and we accepted.

“But now, it’s not what the governor said that was done. Where Abakpa women were supposedly allotted shops have been taken over by others. When you go there to lock the shop you will discover that another person has already locked it. Traders from villages were there warning us not to touch any shop.

“We are asked to vacate our shops at the main market, but the ones that the governor promised to give us, we didn’t see.

“There have been announcements on the radio that market women have been given shops, and we have been asking who are these market women because none of us got shop at the International market.

“We are not treated well, Rev. Fr. Nwali on Monday told us that if we don’t know where to keep our goods that we should take it home that it’s not compulsory that we will all do business.

“That was when we said that the whole is getting out of hand that we should go to the Bishop, Abakaliki Catholic Diocese, Michael Okoro, and after that, we will come to government House to hear from the governor and to know if he had been the one sending all those that said they came to us in his name.

“If they want to give market women from villages the shops instead of us, let them go ahead, and let us continue staying at the main market, but if traders from main market will move to the International market, a place should be given to us.

“Akochi’s wife they are parading as our leader is not in the main market with us. She is not a market woman.
“We went there on Monday, and that market is not ready yet, there is no security, bank, dust everywhere, and the Monday deadline is already here.

”The governor should please bear with us and allow us to stay in the main market while he finishes building the International market. We are behind him and we support the work he is doing, but let him finish building the market and allot our own portion, that is why we are protesting today”, she stated

In their written petition to the Bishop, the women called on him to intervene on their behalf.

“We are being forced to move without proper allocation of shops and those allocated shops at the new market are not known traders from our market.
“The government apparently is reneging on its promise to allow us use the new market for one year without pay.

“Mrs Akochi is not known to have a shop at Abakpa market, and so, she is not our leader.

“The widows among us have lamented that shops left for them by their late husbands are being taken away without compensation”, they stated

In his response, the Special Assistant to the Governor on Security and Utility, Abakaliki Urban, Saint Nchekwube Anakor, assured the women that their agitation will be taken care of.

He told them to come with the list of those who bought form for shops as well as the list of all the traders at the Abakpa main market to the International market on Thursday by 10am, so that the issue of not getting shops will be addressed.

“I need two lists, one for those who bought form and the other containing names of all the traders in the market.
“Tomorrow by 10am, come with your executive to the International market. I want you to know that you are still part of this government.

“We will meet there, but the most important thing is that you people will move, governor will not take your shops, and those who have shops will be given shops at the International market. In Ebonyi we deal on standard and that International market is the best in the country even in West Africa, so it will be good for you people to move to that place.

“There is no place such movement will occur that there won’t be complains, but we will look into your complains that is our assurance and we promise that everyone will get shop there on or before the deadline” he noted.

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