Market union leadership seal shops over ‘₦5.7 million scam’ in Anambra market
In the Idemili South Local Government Area of Anambra State's Afor Nnobi Market, more than 200 shops and stalls have been sealed.
According to sources, the stores were closed on Wednesday evening, August 10, 2022, by Barrister Dominic Okpala, President-General of Nnobi, in coordination with the leadership of the market union, led by Maduabuchukwu Ezeoke.
According to reports, the stores were shut down in order to compel the owners of each one to pay a total of N43,500 for an alleged market scam scheme, which included a N5,000 penalty fee and a N38,500 levy.
In order to enforce compliance, sources claim that the president general sent goons to the market. They also claim that some of the stranded but perplexed merchants have been paying the new price since last week in order to open their shops.
When reached yesterday, Maduabuchukwu Ezeoke, Chairman of the Nnobi Market Traders Association (NMATA), stated that letters had been sent to shop owners warning them that their businesses would be closed if they failed to pay the tax and that it was only the obstinate ones who were complaining.
In his reaction, the president-General of Nnobi, Barrister Dominic Okpala said the money was for the rehabilitation of three storey buildings containing 150 shops in the market. He said the urgent need to rehabilitate the buildings made the shop to be sealed.
Okpala said the management and control of the market is the responsibility of the town union, Nnobi Welfare Organization (NWO) who, according to the parties, were owners of the land on which the buildings were erected.
However, in a statement dated June 30, 2022, signed and made available to Journalists in Anambra by the palace Secretary, Ichie Ezeobianumba Ajaghaku, the Monarch of Nnobi, His Royal Majesty, Engineer Nick Obi said the land lord’s should be contacted to rehabilitate buildings while the money should be discountenanced as due process was not followed, adding that the directive or letter of June 7 and June 17, 2022 issued to the shop owners by the president – general contravened provisions of section 42 subsections (a ), (f) and ( j) of the Nnobi Town Constitution 2011 (Revised).
“Be directed as follows that the purported contract money of N5,773, 100 and levied sum of N 38,500 to each shop owner should be discountenanced and without effect until the proper procedure is adhered to; that the letter or directive dated June 7 and June 16, 2022, were a violation of section 42 ( a, f, j) of Nnobi Town Constitution Revised 2011.”
It was further noted in the statement titled ‘ Re- Renovation, Rehabilitation And Roofing Of The Dilapidated Decked Building In The Greater Afor Nnobi Market Scheme ‘, that the Monarch of Nnobi, Nick Obi was kept in the dark over the proposals while the project was not presented to the Central Executive Committee (CEC) of the Nnobi Welfare Organization (NWO), the Nnobi town union for approval.
“It is also the information of Igwe Nnobi that the expected project was not presented at the CEC Meeting of NWO for discussion and approval. The Monarch of Nnobi is not even aware of your proposals, yet letters have been written and circulated to shop owners to pay in the sum of N38,500 to a stated account number with the UBA Plc.
“Therefore, a separate account should be opened and operated by the shop owners and NWO and Igwe-In-Council (IIC) while the tender should contain a detailed bill of quality and labour cost,” it stated.
When contaçted, the Monarch of Nnobi, Nick Obi said he did not authorize the sealing of the shops adding that the shops should be unsealed.
“The shops should not be sealed. The economic situation is hard. We have made a statement earlier over that. Collect the document from the palace Secretary,” the Monarch said.