Tony Okafor, Awka
Traders, under the aegis of Anambra Elite Traders’ Forum, have petitioned the Anambra State Governor, Prof Chukwuma Soludo, alleging that his Commissioner for Commence and Industry, Dr. Obinna Ngonadi, is selling market leadership positions to the highest bidders under the guise of setting up caretaker committees in the markets.
In their petition to the governor, copied to prominent politicians , religious leaders, human rights community and the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Anambra State council, the traders said their entreaty was to inform Soludo that the Commissioner was selling leadership offices in different markets in the state, thereby causing avoidable confusion.
The traders’ petition which was circulated to journalists on Tuesday in Onitsha was signed by their leaders, Chikeluba Odiche and Michael Nwangwu.
They further alleged that the Commissioner’s actions had raised tempers in different markets in the state, enjoining Soludo to call him to order as his( Commissioner’s) actions did not portend Soludo’s avowed commitment to zero tolerance to sharp practices.
The traders’ petition was copied to: Senator Ifeanyi Ubah, Senator Uche Ekwunife, Senator Stella Odua, Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Obimma, Rt. Rev. O.C. Chiemeka, His Grace, Most Rev. Valerian Okeke, Rt. Rev. Owen Nwokolo, Most Rev. Alex Ibezim, His Lordship, Most Rev. Paulinus Ezeokafor, Rt. Rev. Ndubuisi Obi, Venerable Joseph Nweke, Chief Rommy Ezeonwuka, Comrade Aloysius Attah, Comrade Vincent Ezekweme, Dr. Emeka Odogwu Emeka, Chief of staff, Anambra state, Government House and Commissioner for Home Affair and Anambra State Government House Awka.
They said, ” The bazaar has passed through many markets which includes Bridge-Head Market, Nkpor Main Market, Electronics Market Ogbaru, Ose Okwuodu Market, Ogbaru Main Market, NASPA Nnewi Market and several other Markets. In each of these Markets, the Commissioner for Trade and Market auctioned the different executive offices and positions,. Wherein traders paid varying sum of money for these positions. Dr. Ngonadi shamelessly collected these monies from these persons and sold off offices to these persons and subsequently drove out the lawful occupants of these offices”
They alleged that the Commissioner had been in the habit of disobeying court orders especially that in the New Autor Spare Parts Market by approving the construction of new shops by certain persons on top of the existing ones owned by members of the association without consent.
Their petition read in part, “It is a matter before the court of Appeal Awka with suit No. CA/AW/155/2022. Also, there is a pending motion for injunction and stay of execution at the Appeal Court too. But the Commissioner neglected all these facts and went ahead to tamper with the subject matter before the Court” the group said.
“Dr. Ngonadi motivated and emboldened by the filthy lucre collected from these power seeking traders, proceeded to ignore in a brazen manner, different court cases pending in respect of his unlawful removal of Market leaders.
“The action of this Commissioner has caused many traders in the market to institute different court cases in different law courts in the state. It might interest your Excellency to note that some of these cases involve not just the ministry and Dr. Ngonadi as parties, but also the Anambra state Government”.
“There are over 40 court cases pending in different courts against the state Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Dr. Obinna Ngonadi and the Anambra state Government. It is noteworthy that these cases were provoked by the actions and recklessness of Dr. Ngonadi.
“The Commissioner’s actions are utterly distasteful and paint the image of the state government black”, adding, “the state government is being projected by the Commissioner as one which has no respect for the judiciary.”
They appealed to the governor to look into the matter and ensure that the Commissioner was called to order and made to retrace his footsteps as there was already tension in different markets in the state.
When the Commissioner said,”There are always petitions from people we stopped from benefiting from illegalities in form of diversion of government revenues, extortions and other criminal activities in the market. The markets are very peaceful now. The allegations you stated are left for you to verify. I can’t possibly dignify them with a response.”