Protesting traders disrupt prayers over delayed election in Onitsha market
The monthly prayer session organized by traders at Ochanja market, Onitsha, Anambra State was on Wednesday suddenly disrupted by angry traders following alleged delay in conduct of election into leadership positions in the market union.
The prayer session had moved on smoothly until the concluding part of the exercise when the embattled caretaker committee chairman of the market, Chief Nelson Ojukwu wanted to give vote of thanks and also make some announcements.
The angry traders who had waited patiently for his turn suddenly sprang to the feet shouting on the chairman to allow the traders elect their leaders.
They chanted in loud voices saying : “We don’t agree, give us a date for our election, you have overstayed your welcome, we won’t allow you to address us” among other derogatory words.
The atmosphere became tensed as vigilante operatives guarding the market fired several gunshots in the air and the traders scampered in different directions thereby bringing the prayer session to an abrupt end.
Some of the angry traders who spoke including Charles Eze, Onyekachukwu Anigbo and Sir Clifford Iloduba said the traders were angry over the elongated tenure of the Nelson Ojukwu leadership in the market.
They disclosed that the leadership has served out their first tenure of four years before he was appointed as caretaker chairman for an initial one year which elapsed too but has been renewed twice for another three months interval.
They also accused the leadership of sit-tight syndrome alleging that the game plan of the caretaker committee was to extort the traders over the planned building of new shops about to commence in the market.
When contacted, the caretaker committee chairman, Chief Nelson Ojukwu denied any tenure elongation plot and said they were simply awaiting directives from the Minsitry of Trade , Commerce and Wealth Creation so as to conduct a fresh election.
He said his leadership was not embarking on any construction of new shops except a recent approval to rebuild dilapidated structures in the market.