File photo of a market in Onitsha
By Sunny A. David, Onitsha
Tension is gradually brewing at Ogbaru Main Market, near Onitsha following the recent emergence of three persons who are claiming the chairmanship position of the prominent provision market.
The crisis was said to have started when the Anambra State Government through the Commissioner for Trade, Commerce and Wealth Creation, Dr. Christian Madubuko accused and arrested the elected former Chairman of the market, Chief Victor Nwawuzie [Akirika] of embezzling government funds amounting to about N93million which the embattled suspended chairman has denied.
During the suspension of Chief Nwawuzie from seat, the Vice Chairman of the market, Mr. Chinedu Ejezie (1st Vice Chairman) who is a non-indigene of Anambra State was nominated to replace the embattled Chairman, but majority of the stakeholders in the market kicked against the move, citing that he was not entitled to lead the market because of his indigeneship which is contrary to the market constitution.
When the imbroglio over succession had died down following the appointment of one of the market executive’s popularly known as “Buckunor” Peace and normalcy gradually returned to the market.
However, the expected peace was said to have lasted a short time as there were incessant complaints of market shops being burgled at night in the presence of vigilante men hired as security guards in the market.
The incessant cases of burglary in the market which did not go down well with some power brokers in the area, however, pitched the market Board of Trustees members led by Chief Sam Mendu and other stakeholders of the market against “Bucknor” the Caretaker Chairman of the market.
On sensing that he has been removed from his position by the State Government on Thursday morning, the vigilante members of the market closed all the gates leading to the market on the orders of the embattled Chairman, a situation which kept members of the market and their customers stranded for hours. It was later learnt that crisis was aborted when the BOT Chairman of the market, Chief Sam Mendu (Onwa Ogidi) made some contact with the State Commissioner of Commerce, Trade and Wealth Creation, Dr. Madubuko who eventually phoned the Police at Okpoko Division who ordered for the re-opening of the market.
Speaking to the press on the matter, the Market Board of Trustee, Chairman (BOT) Chief Sam Mendu blamed the looming crisis on the embattled chairman whom he said was incompetent to lead the market.
He noted that despite all pleas made to him to compile the names of all traders affected in the burglary of shops in the area the market chairman had not done so and described him as ‘’a man not competent to lead.”
However, Chief Mendu told the press that a new chairman has been approved by the state government, one Mr. Ndubuisi Ochiogu an erstwhile Caretaker Chairman of the Market to man a transition period prior to the market election which is expected to take place next year.
In a sharp reaction, the President General, Anambra State Markets Amalgamated Traders Association (AMATAS), Chief Okwudili Ezenwankwo who rushed to the market shortly on hearing about the impending crisis, while addressing some of the traders in the market dismissed Chief Mendu’s position on the selection of the market Chairman.
He disclosed that he was unaware that new person has been approved as Chairman of the market as nothing to that effect had reached his office as the overall market boss in Anambra State.
Chief Ezenwankwo decried a situation whereby somebody would be in his office to dictate or appoint who leads a particular market, adding that the days of impunity in Anambra markets were over.
He warned anybody wishing to lead in markets to stand for election as that was the only recognised way to test one’s popularity in such market.
The market leader, however, stated that as it stands the suspended Chairman of the market, Chief Victor Nwawuzie remains the Chairman of the market pending the time an election would be held for his replacement.
At the time of filling this report our correspondent gathered that the state government had directed for a crucial meeting among all the major stakeholders in the market to determine the authentic leader of the troublesome market.