Abakpa Market Boils Again!… 3 Beaten To Pulp… As IGR Officials Swoop on Market

Abakpa Market Boils Again!… 3 Beaten To Pulp… As IGR Officials Swoop on Market

By Joy Okeke, Okereke Wilson Ogbonnaya, and Oguegbulu Janefrancis

Group of men numbering over 50, suspected to be members of Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) Taskforce team on Wednesday morning 28th August 2019, allegedly beat to comatose, one Mr. Uche Patrick, an apprentice at Imo line in Abakaliki.

A petty trader who pleaded anonymity told Citizens’ Advocate that the problem started following the men’s action when they stormed the area with al already prepared list.

He said that the people upon their arrival began to lock shops of the persons in their list, accusing them of influencing negatively other traders against payment of N14,000 revenue.

He told us that when the men went to Mr. Uchenna’s boss’ shop, he, out of ignorance of what was going on, allegedly displayed some resistance requesting to be clarified on their action and instead of his curiosity to be satisfied, he was rather tortured to the state of unconsciousness by the group.

According to our source, immediately they sensed that the young man might not survive the brutality meted out on him, they left the scene market abandoning the victim to his fate.
Through the help of some sympathizers, he was later rushed to Alex Ekwueme Federal Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki (AEFETHA).

Mrs. Virginia Ogbuefi, also a trader, told us that the fracas was an offshoot of the former protest experienced in the area some weeks ago where their immediate past chairman in the person of Comrade Christopher Eze was unjustifiably ousted by some government officials who later imposed Hon Peter on them.

She claimed that the list given to the task force members were the persons accused of not being in support of Hon Oba’s leadership and that the issue of revenue collection was used as a ploy against them.
According to her, besides the torture of Mr. Uchenna, two other traders whose names were not given had equally been beaten blue-black by the same people.

abakaliki Market

However, when confronted with the issue at hand, Hon. Oba told newsmen that he knows nothing about people being beaten; what they did was seal the shop.

He said list were the names of those who did not only stoutly refused to pay the revenue but discouraged others from complying and in order to enforce government directive, the officials came and started sealing their shops.
He added that in the process, it was discovered that the traders in the list were those allegedly holding meetings often against the policy, adding that the payment comprised both environmental and fire service fees which were expected to be settled install mentally.

Prior to then, when a rumor began to filter in that one of those beaten had died, the traders began to organize a protest such that there was no activity in the market on Wednesday.

Hon Oba disclosed that during the protest, some persons broke into his shop and destroyed his wares.
We gathered that the protesters who were dispersed with teargas by police to stop causing havoc and restiveness later engaged the security men in a fight with stones and other objects while the entire market was shut down throughout the day.

Recall, the state government had earlier dissolved the market executive and appointed a caretaker committee to pilot affairs of the market, allegedly against traders’ wish and they recently expressed dismay on sudden quit notice issued them on 30th July 2019 by the Chairman of Ebonyi Local Government Area, Hon Mrs.

Chinyere Nwogbaga.
The quit notice sighted by our reporter was signed by Nwogbaga dated 30th July 2019 and traders were given till 31st of August to quit the market.

It reads, “I, Hon. Mrs. Chinyere Nwogbaga, chairman Ebonyi Local Government Area, Ugbodo, your sub-lessor/landlord hereby give you notice to quit and deliver possession of shop 27 Cameroon line, Abakpa Main market, Abakaliki and its appurtenances lying and situate thereby which you hold on lease. This notice shall expire on 31st day of August 2019.

Reacting to the notice, Nweke Titus, who said he procured his shop before the civil war said he started selling goods there after the war.
He disclosed that the shop was leased to him by an erstwhile Chairman of Ebonyi Local Government Area, Hon. Sunday Adol Awam for thirty years, which is still counting.

Mr. Titus Nweke said, “I am from Inyimagu in Izzi Local Government Area. This market is located in our place. It is the people of Inyimagu and Agbaja that own Abakaliki. When I acquired this shop was during the war until 1970 when the war ended, I came back to the shop. We were paying rate as at then. What we were paying per shop was not up to N50. I came here in 1967 and the war ended in 1970.

“Look at my hair, they are all gray. I am 75 years old today. I got married and gave birth to my children here. I am old and they said we should come and pay N3.2 million. It was during the regime of Adol Awam that we were given a lease to build these shades, and the lease is still remaining 30 years.

Other traders, who spoke with newsmen about the quit notice, were Chief Ozoemena Okafor and Chukwuemeka Okoye. They all lamented the quit notice.
Efforts to get reactions from government officials, as well as executive members of the market about the clash at the time of filing this report, was not successful.

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