A compulsory levy of N200 on all the shops in Onitsha Main Market by the leadershipof the market, which is meant to install Closed Circuit Camera to monitor movement around the market has thrown it into confusion.
This is because thugs suspected to be members of the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) yesterday invaded the Onitsha Main Market, beating-up traders who were protesting the levy.
Members of the market taskforce had as early as 8.30am yesterday gone into the market for the collection of the levy but were resisted by the traders who refused to pay on the grounds that the levy was not legitimate.
Some other traders insisted that though the idea is novel, they said that N200 monthly per shop was on the high side, and would run into several hundreds of millions if all the shops in the market paid.
According to an eye witness the agents pounced on one of the chairmen of the lines in the market when he stoutly resisted attempts to collect such levy from his members.
His bluntness, however, angered the task force members and they allegedly pounced on the said line chairman beating him to a pulp. While his shirt was torn to shreds.
For man-handling their leader other traders immediately locked-up their shops and mobilised fellow traders in the market who joined their colleagues in the mass protest.
The protest was however disrupted by a gang of youths who are suspected to be members of MASSOB who invaded the protesters, dispersing them and threatening to use weapons on them.
Speaking to reporters on the incident, the line chairmen and secretaries of zone1, zone 2 and 3 of the market, who did not want their names in print for fear of their lives said that the traders had earlier expressed joy when the state government supported the installation of the CCTV camera in the market, stressing that traders had only agreed to pay for maintenance levy.
The market leaders lamented that the Onitsha Main Market leadership led by Chief Innocent Agudiegwu and AMATAS President, Chief Okwudili Ezenwankwo were only using the opportunity to enrich themselves.
According to the line chairmen and their secretaries, each line in the market pays a levy to maintain their line security, likewise the central market security and wondered how some majority of the traders in the market were going to cope under such exploitation.
Attempt to speak with the chairman of Onitsha Main Market, Chief Innocent Agudiegwu proved abortive as he was said not to be in his office when this correspondent visited the market.