Ogbaru Market: Commissioner flouts Court order, installs Caretaker Committee

Alphonsus Nweze

Inspite of an order of Anambra State Hight Court, presided over by Justice Alexious Okuma, that the State Commissioner for Commerce, Dr. Christian Ngonadi, Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice and others should maintain status quo ante bellum in Ogbaru Main Market, they went ahead on Thursday, June 16, 2022 to impose Caretaker Committee on the market.

The Judge had also directed in his sitting on June 3, 2022, that the security operatives should not harass and intimidate Ndubuisi Ochiogu led executive following complaints by Ochiogu’s lawyer, Chief Ben Uzuegbu (SAN) until the next hearing which came up on Friday, June 17, 2022.

But despite the orders by the court, Dr. Ngonadi with the chairman of Anambra State Amalgamated Traders Association (ASMATA), Chief Ikechukwu Ekwegbalu, led a team of Police men with thugs, forcibly broke into the office of Ochiogu and chased away the workers.
Sources at the market said the combined team of Police from Police Headquarters, Awka and thugs from ASMATA office in Onitsha chased away the people in the office, ransacked the place and turned the tables and chairs upside down.
The Government’s Caretaker Committee Chairman, David was in the process brought to take over Ochiogu’s office contrary to court order.
But yesterday when the matter came up for hearing Chief Uzuegbu reported to the court the action of the Commissioner for Commerce, asking the action should be quashed.
In his fundamental rights application, Uzuegbu argued that his client was not given opportunity to defend the allegations against him, rather the Ministry set up Caretaker Committee, fixed a date for election in 2023 and stated that they were conducting investigation into the petitions raised against Ochiogu.
“How can they still conduct an investigation when they have removed the elected chairman on the bases of phantom petitions which he was not given opportunity to defend,” he queried.

The Senior Advocate also told the court that in accordance with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of NIgeria, it is the Local Government, not the state Government that controls the markets.
In her response, the Principal State Counsel, Loveline Exude, representing the respondents, opposed the application.
The matter was adjourned to July 1, 2022.

Chief Uzuegbu wondered why a Government headed by Prof. Chukwuma Soludo should flagrantly disobey court orders so early in the day.
“we are wondering whether we have made a mistake by voting for Soludo. What he said is not what he is doing.We have brought the matter to the Governor, Secretary to the State Government (SSG) and Attorney General of the State but they ignored it and took laws into their hands.” He concluded.

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