Our Market Correspondent
Traders at Ogbaru relief market, near Onitsha, Anambra state, has rejected the election purported to have been conducted in the market to elect its leaders.
As a consequence, the traders had given the state governor, Willie Obiano, a seven-day ultimatum to cancel the election or face mass protest.
The traders, consisting of 203 lines chairmen and secretaries, had threatened to protest in Awka, the state capital, if the election was not cancelled at the expiration of the ultimatum.
Briefing journalists on Monday, the spokesperson for the traders, Chief Chinyelugo Nnamekwu, described the election as illegal and fraudulent.
They accused a certain commissioner in Obiano’s cabinet of collaborating with antidemocratic forces in the market to hoodwink the traders in the poll.
He said, “There was no election but selection of candidates by the leadership of markets in the state in collaboration with Chief Ndubisi Ochiogu, the so-called winner of the election.
“Out of 203 lines in the market, 199 did not vote as we were barred from entering the stadium to vote by ASMATA security operatives deployed to disenfranchise us and we were dumped at the entrance gate of the stadium till the end of the election.
“The Commissioner promised us that on the day of the election 120 lines will be accredited to vote with passports but on that day 233 lines were created out of which 199 lines were barred from voting.
“Those that voted were non traders brought with about five buses, ASMATA security operatives and women who could not even identify who they voted for as they were just ordered to queue up and be counted”
“Fake lines with unknown lines Chairmen and secretaries were allowed to go in and vote, leaving the genuine lines Chairmen and Secretaries to their fate outside the stadium. It is an abomination and we can’t accept this.
“This protest is going to be the mother of all protests in the state, we will ground the state if after seven days the Governor does not cancel the result of the election.”
Reacting, the winner of the purported market election, Chief Ndubisi Ochiogu, described the protesters’ claims as false and unfounded, insisting the election was free, fair and credible.
He said, “My victory was a pay back by the traders for my achievements in the market. I brought light, water, security and opened account with the bank on behalf of the traders, which no successive governments have done in the market”.
He dismissed as false allegation that he picked two people of his choice from each of the market lines and made them chairman and secretary thereby dumping the genuine lines chairmen and Secretaries.
“I went to the lines like other contestants did to know the line chairmen and secretaries, so how would mine be different?”, he stated.