Onitsha traders petition Obiano over commissioner’s court order flout
By Phil Okose Onitsha
Traders at the Bridgehead Market, Onitsha, Anambra state, under the aegis of Joint Session of Leaders of Thought, have petitioned Governor Willie Obiano over what they called the disobedience to court order by the commissioner for trade, commerce, markets and wealth creation, Uchenna Okafor and the caretaker committee chairman of the market, Mr. Sunday Obinze.
In the petition, which was signed by the chairman and secretary of the Joint Session of Leaders of Thought/Stakeholders, Chief Bonaventure Ucheagwu and Comrade Peter Okala, respectively, they expressed dismay that the duo could openly disobey court order without the state government sanctioning them.
The petition read in part thus; “our attention has been drawn to the unpleasant situation of worrisome disobedience of various orders of
court with impunity by Mr Uchenna Okafor, who doubles as Hon Commissioner of Trade and Commerce and building Contractor of various
plazas with Sunday Obinze and his group at Bridge Head Market Onitsha”
“Recall that the Onitsha high Court 3, Presided over by Hon Justice D. A. Onyefulu, has made an order forbidden the conduct of an election into the offices of executives of Bridge Head Market Traders Association on 16th April 2019 and another valid order on 4th February 2021, nullifying such elections which was conducted in flagrant disobedience of her order of 2019 by Sunday Obinze and his group.
Notwithstanding, the commissioner hurriedly visited Bridge Head Market just four days after the court order being 8th February to address the traders with claim that his partner being Sunday Obinze had gotten a stay of execution from the court of Appeal (4 days after the said order) and would subsequently continue in office against the
will of the traders.”
According to them on Saturday being 13th of February, Commissioner Okafor invited the BoT members and some stake holders to his Awkuzu residence to intimidate them by telling them that the election was nullified truly but the same Obinze would win the election even if it was conducted 10 times.
“On 17th February 2021, the commissioner had a meeting with the plaintiff and some stake holders at his Awka office where he further brought his words of intimidation and threat to traders that he may be forced to retain the outlawed Sunday Obinze and his group as caretaker committee on the troubled market in order to protect his investments in the market.”
“On Friday 19th February 2021, the said Uchenna Okafor in total disregard to all known norm, rule, and grand judicial process went ahead to carry out all his threat and assault to the collective intelligence of highly distinguished members /traders at Bridge Head Market by penning down a letter of appointment with reference number
‘MTCM//HC/VOL02/238’ which returned the sacked purported executives led by Mr Sunday Obinze to manage the Union and market for another one year.”
They hinted further that the commissioner after the sacrilegious appointment got served with court process of form 48, asking him to appear in court and tell the reason why he should not be committed to prison for contempt.
The petitioners added however that, “on 19th May, why the court was on strike, the commissioner said that Obinze has been cleared by the court and will remain as chairman of the market and plan for conduct of a future democratic election stating that the rival group were members of IPOB.”
According to the petitioners, upon the nullification of the election by the court, the BOT who are the legal owners of the market, approved the appointment of a neutral and capable persons to manage the market pending the determination of the substantive suit and conduct of all-encompassing general election but that the commissioner did not oblige.
Lamenting the position of the commissioner, they said, “it is unheard of that the ministry of trade and commerce being an institution of law, would go out of its way to deny same to its citizens and indigenes their right of association as enshrined in the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”