The arrangement is said to have been perfected for a peaceful protest this week by traders in Anambra State, over the arrest of two market chairmen, by personnel of the Department of Security Service, DSS, during a meeting with all market chairmen in the State and State Government Internal Revenue Service, held at Training hall, Revenue House, Awka, State capital, Tuesday.
The meeting, alleged was at the instance of the chairman of the revenue body, Mr. Richard Nworah Madiebo, to discuss on the way forward as traders vowed not to pay for an exorbitant levy imposed on them by the body, for loading and offloading of wares in the markets.
As deliberation was going on at the meeting, officials of DSS reportedly stormed the venue and immediately arrested and whisked away two market chairmen, that of Ogidi Building Materials market, and chairman of Oguta road Aluminum Dealers Association, who were in the meeting, for allegedly opposing #30,000 to #40,000 exorbitant levy imposed on the traders instead of #5,000, normal levy payment.
Consequently, the meeting ended in fiasco as the entire traders, in solidarity to their arrested members, left in anger to the headquarters of the DSS in Awka, where their two arrested members were taken to.
Reacting Wednesday, concerned traders in the State, led by their chairman, Chief Gabriel Okeke, reiterated that there is no going back on the protest over the arrest even as they vowed to boycott any meeting organized by the State Government to avoid arrest.
“We will this week protest the arrest and exorbitant levy imposed on us by the State Government. We formerly paid #5,000 for loading and offloading of wares but now the State Government imposed #30,000 to #40,000, as the case may be. From where do we source the levy imposed on us to pay at this hardship.
“Two market chairmen, from Building Materials market Ogidi, and that of Oguta Road Aluminum Dealers Association, were arrested by DSS in the meeting we were having at the training hall of the Revenue House, in Awka, on the order of the chairman of the revenue body, Mr Richard Nworah Madiebo, for earlier opposing the high levy.
“It is because of this high levy being imposed on traders that different sections of the traders in the State, that include, tomatoes sellers, fish sellers, among others, are leaving for neighboring States like Delta, Imo, Enugu and Abia. You don’t employ those who are not traders to come and pilot the affairs of the traders. Sacked touts were recalled to come and manage our affairs, we can’t take it.
“The protest is just to let Governor Charles Chukwuma Soludo, know that we can’t bear this any longer, Anambra is not the only State where you have traders. Every time leaders are changed and caretaker committees instituted. Government has no business in market leadership, it is just to collect its levy and leave leadership for the traders,” he fumed.