OVER 150 traders of Progress Market Extension, trading at Haruna, Niger and Ifejika Streets, Odoakpu Onitsha, Monday called on Governor Chukwuma Soludo, of Anambra State to prevail on the Chairman Transition Committee, Onitsha South Local Government Area, Mr Emeka Orji, to halt his planned demolition of their legally acquired shops.
The traders also told the Commissioner of Police, Anambra State, not to allow the Police Area Command Onitsha, the Commander 302 Artillery Regiment Onitsha and the Commander Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corp, NSCDC, carrying out the alleged illegal demolition.
The traders vowed to resist any attempt to demolish their shops by the Council area authority, it alleged wants to disposes them of their legally acquired shops on the pretest of decongesting the shops on the drainage system, with the intention to give same to the highest bidder, following the rising business profile of the area.
The Onitsha South Local Government Authority had in a letter to the traders dated June 15, 2023 signed by Mr. P . Onuachala, Special Duties Adviser, for Onitsha South Local Government Chairman, given the traders 48 hours told owners / occupiers to dismantle the shops to safe their goods and materials from demolition/enforcement action.
However, the traders in reply to letter through their lawyers, Chief Ikenna Egbuna, SAN, and Mr. C.M. Obijagwa, Esq, respectively, entitled Re “Final Notice to Remove shops at Progress Market Extension near Haruna Street Odoakpu Onitsha, said their shops were not built on the drainage system where the state government is carrying out expansion work, neither are they obstructing the ongoing construction of a bridge in the area.
The traders therefore, appealed to the Governor, the Police, Army and NSCDC to call the Onitsha South LGA authority to order, while asking the security agencies they are planning to use for the job to avoid involving in any act that will cause brake down of law and order in Onitsha.
“We are therefore, asking Onitsha South Council boss to give peace a chance in our market, we are paying all the necessary levies and taxes to the State and local government and we are ready to stop any body trying to dispossess us under any guise of our market shops.”
In another letters by Chief Egbuna, SAN, the traders said, “We got approval of both the Onitsha South Local Government and Anambra State Government to construct our shops after the Town Engineer and HOD, Works and the then Unit Head, Environmental Health, in the council area had given their approval for construction of the shops, so we wonder why anybody will be planning to dispossess us our shops on the pretest of decongestion of drainage.
The traders provided the Onitsha South Local Government Shop Construction Approval letters for Progress Market Extension, dated September 5, 2013, May 12, 2015, and Application for reconstruction of 14 shops dated February 5, 2018, just as they gave newsmen, the Council Area, Confirmation of the Ownership of Shops letter dated July 24, 2020, issued by the LGA authority to some traders including, Mr. Edozie Orji, Facemore Nigeria Limited, Mr. Emmanuel Idoko & Leonard Okorie, Mr. Eric Uwaoma, Mr. Christian Orji, Mr. Agu Onyeka Joseph and Mr. Monday Nwokoye and seven others.
Chief Egbnuna, SAN, told the Council Transtutoon Committee Chairman that he had to write him before taking any personal legal action against him, to let him known that the traders are in receipt of Clearance/Approval letters for construction dated 12th May 2015 and other documents from the LGA and the State government granting them permission to construct their shops.
“May we bring to your notice that the subject matter of your letter is subject of litigation in Appeal No. CA/AWK/263/2021, which Onitsha South LGA testified in the High Court 1 Onitsha. We are surprised that the Respondent in that Appeal is sponsoring the your Council Area to demolish our clients market shops.
“He is trying to use Onitsha South Local Government to obtain a remedy that he knows is not attainable to him in Court.
Be reminded that every construction in the market were done with the approval of the Council Area and the State government. You will be in contempt of Court if you dare carry out the demolition, and we will have the option of proceeding to court against you in your personal capacity.