Hundreds of market women and other residents in Anambra State on Friday protested at the Onitsha South Local Government Area headquarters, over an alleged plot by the council chairman, Emeka Orji, to eject them from their Oduigbo section of the Ochanja Central market.

Chief Chukwudi Eke, the protesters' spokesperson, accused the council chairman of colluding with the chairman of Ochanja Central Market, Chief Bonaventure Muo, to evict them in the pretext of erecting ultra-modern shops in the market.

The protesters who were mainly widows were seen carrying placards with the inscription, "council chairman, Emeka Orji, what have we done to you?”, “we are widows and eke our living from Oduigbo market”, “Gov. Soludo come to our rescue, they want to demolish the shops in the market to acquire more shops to be the ones they have", among others.

Speaking to the press at the gate of the council headquarters, during the protest, Chief Eke was quoted as saying, "The market chairman, Chief Muo and the council chairman, gave us two days to vacate the market or they will use caterpillars to demolish the over 300 shops.

"They said Sunday and Monday would be used for the demolition and asked us to vacate the market before they come up with their weapons of destruction. There was a time the government came and told us that the market was dark that there should be light in the market by renovating it.

"We told them that we can do that by ourselves to their taste but because of interest they have in the market to have shops, they now want to eject us. 80 per cent of the traders here are widows that eke their living from the Oduigbo market.

"We plead to Governor Charles Chukwuma Soludo to come to our rescue as we have no other person to understand our predicament except him as Nwa Mgbafor,” he stated.

Also, the spokesperson of the widows, Mrs Ifeoma Emeka, bemoaned the manner in which her fellow members were being treated by the relevant stakeholders in the market.

She was quoted saying, “80 per cent of the traders here are widows who eke their living from here. The council chairman and the Ochanja Central market chairman should not see us as slaves but as people who are catering for their families since the death of their husbands that were the breadwinners.

"The shops they want to demolish are modern shops and we are ready to renovate them by ourselves if asked to do so. I plead to Governor Soludo to come to the rescue of the traders" she pleaded.

When asked about the situation, the council chairman, Emeka Orji, declined to comment, but the chairman of the Ochanja market, Chief Muo, stated that he was acting on orders from the government.

He said, "The government wants to restore sanity in the market and ensure that those in the streets are brought into the markets to avoid unforeseen catastrophe.

"What the government is doing is for the traders’ own good, to avoid accidents and street trading that is nuisance to the state. We are not sacking them; rather it is to better their environment," he stated.

Meanwhile, in a circular titled “FINAL NOTICE OF DEMOLITION”, signed by Emeka Joseph Orji, Chairman Onitsha South Local Government which was made available to SaharaReporters on Friday, the site clearing was fixed for Sunday.

The circular, therefore, urged all the traders and dwellers of the area to remove all their belongings that might hinder the planned site clearing on Sunday.



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