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BREAKING: Ogbete Market leader reveals cause of Wednesday’s protest in Enugu

By Tochukwu Ibenagu

The leadership of Ogbete Market in Enugu has revealed what sparked the violent protest that rocked the market on the morning of Wednesday in the capital city.

The President of Ogbete Market Traders Association (OMATA), Chief Stephen Aniagu, made the revelation on Thursday while speaking as a guest on Urban Radio FM, 94.5 phon-in programme, Prime Time.

According to him, the state governor, Dr Peter Mbah had held a meeting with the Ogbete Market traders earlier regarding the issue of sit-at-home that has been crippling the economy of the state, where it was agreed that since adequate security measures had been provided to ensure their safety, they would all resume normal business activities on Monday. However, he said, the state government, while monitoring compliance, sealed about 40 shops of those defying government directive to open on Monday.

He explained that following the sealing of the shops, the state government issued an instruction on the procedure to follow for them to be reopened by the Enugu Capital Territory Development Authority (ECTDA). He said that early in the morning of Tuesday, about 10 shops had already been unsealed by ECTDA with no fine paid since none was included in the directive issued by government.

”On Tuesday night, I got information that some of the security personnel in the market were organizing people in nearby streets of Obiagu, Ngenevu, and its environs to protest in the the next morning. On that fateful Wednesday, I came to the market early in the morning and rang a bell, all the traders gathered and I talked to them, reminding them of the ten shops already opened by the government and payments were not made. Since we were not told to pay any money but to write a letter, we will do it diplomatically and other shops will be opened. I told them that the state government has provided security and that we should resume our activities just like other markets in the state capital of Ebonyi, Abia, Imo etc. They all agreed and everyone went to his shops and resumed business.

” Shortly after addressing the traders, I was in a meeting with some Policemen in my office when I was told that some group of young men were making entry into the market, we looked outside and saw people in their numbers coming towards my office, we left immediately and they went straight to my office and started damaging everything in the office, smashed the three Plasma televisions there and carted away with other luxury items. The CSO’s office was next to mine but nothing happened to it, corroborating the earlier information I got that he was planning a protest. Now, as this protest was ongoing, the real traders in Ogbete never joined, everyone became apprehensive, expressing worry over their items as the group of boys moved around the market until they finally made their way to Ogui road and other areas where they destroyed goods at Nwa Jesus’ Electronic Shop.

”On the issue of how many people were killed, I am a Christian and will not lie because this involves human blood. Only one person, a young man was killed in the cause of the protest and we have the video and pictorial evidence. Anyone telling you that it is more than one person is not saying the truth. And I will also want to debunk the statement that the state government told the traders whose shops were sealed to pay a fine. No, something of that nature didn’t happen and if it was part of the directives given before a sealed shop will be opened, I would have said it. The incident of Wednesday is politically motivated, it was sponsored and the CSO perfected it,” the market leader revealed.

He further maintained that the information regarding the exact people that shot the young man is still sketchy, asserting that though he left the environment immediately after the angry protesters were making their way to his office, he was aware that there were some policemen on the ground together with some market security vigilante boys. So, it will not be proper to say what I am not sure of until the investigation is concluded by the police.

While reacting to the question on the whereabouts of the Chief Security Officer allegedly said to have masterminded the ugly incident, Chief Aniagu said that he has been taken by the Police for further investigation and has equally confessed to the crime.

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