Tension grips Anambra markets over imposition of Caretakers

Alphonsus Nweze

Palpable tension has gripped markets in Anambra State following the imposition of Caretaker Committees on the 31 markets whose leaderships were sacked some weeks ago.

The imposition of Caretaker leadership came inspite of court injunction from some markets directing that the Ministry of Commerce and Trade to maintain status quo ante bellum.

The Ogbaru Main Market known as Relief Market had gone to court to obtain injunction against the sacking of its elected executive even when there was no justifiable reason.

But shortly after the order of Anambra State High Court sitting at Atani, Ogbaru Judicial division was served on the Ministry, the Permanent Secretary, Mr. Chinedu Ike, in a correspondence dated May 19, 2022 insisted that the caretaker committee must be constituted to oversee the affairs of the market, pending when issues raised in the petition against the election of the executive was thrashed out.

Similar letters were also sent to other markets involved in the gale of sacking market executives.

But Ogbaru and Ose Okwuodu wich have elected executives have described the sacking of their leadership and planning to replace them with caretaker committee as “illegal, high handed and act of witch-hunt.”
In a letter to the Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Dr. Obinna Ngonadi, the counsel to the Ogbaru Main Market, Chief Ben Uzuegbu, said they cannot sack his client’s executive based on phantom petition which they have not been given opportunity to defend.

“The writers of the phantom petitions will be constituted as caretaker committee. Whilst they take the offices of our clients, the government with its bureaucratic bottlenecks will then decide how and when to investigate the allegations . This procedure is bizare! It is the practice during the time of the cave man,” he said.

Uzuegbu also expressed shock that immediately the commissioner received the order that status quo ante bellum be maintained in respect of the matter from a competent High Court, impudently and without regard to due process and rule of law, he caused a letter under reference to be authored.

He reminded the commissioner that the law does not respect institutions , authorities and powers if they are in disobedience to the orders made by them.

However, a competent source close to the market said the traders have insisted that the leadership they voted for will not vacate for caretaker committee imposed by some vested interest in government after allegedly collecting huge sums of money running into tens of millions from the so called petitioners and caretaker members.

The traders posited that since government has failed to obey court of competent jurisdiction, they were not also ready to surrender their rights.

Our sources said that other markets like Ose Okwuodu, Ogboefere Market have also vowed to resist the caretaker committee, vowing to shut down the markets if they want to use force to enter the market.

In the case of Ogboefere, their leadership was quoted as saying that they are Cooperative Society and therefore government has no right to interfere in the running of the market.

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