Traders protest over Ughelli/Ogor Modern Market stores reallocation
By Jon Egie
Traders who owned and have been dispossessed of stores at the Ughelli/Ogor Modern Market in Ughelli on Monday, July 22, carried out a peaceful protest to the Caretaker Committee Chairman of Ughelli North LGC, Hon Chief Friday Akpoyibo demanding that their stores be returned to them.
The placard carrying protesters marched from the Ughelli Public Field to the LGC Secretariat to lodge their grievances.
Speaking on behalf of the traders, Mrs Erhigba Uduen i told the council Chairman that they were the rightful owners of the stores having paid various sums of N69, 000 for open shop, N86, 000 foe big lock up store and N77,000 for small lock up stores since 2007.
She said they were amazed when recently; a publication contained in the Pointer newspaper of Thursday, June 13, 2013 released new names of owners of the stores without consideration to their interests.
Mrs Udueni claimed that the Ughelli North LGC was responsible for the oppression and demanded for justice by returning their stores to them. She alleged that of the new names as purported owners of the stores over 200 persons were identified as either staff of the LGC or wives to staff of the council and hence suspected some fraud in the whole process.
According to her, sources at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Asaba confided in them that the changes were done by the authority of the Ughelli North LGC and therefore urged the council Chairman to revert himself and return the market stores ownership to its former status quo.
One Mrs Evelyn Oghenovo who also spoke said she bought two stores at the rate of N150, 000 each, loaded it with goods only to be told that she has lost possession of the stores over night.
Also speaking, another trader, Mr J. Amrede cautioned that the situation in the market is very volatile and could explode any moment except something urgent is done as the real owners of the stores were being forcefully evicted by the purported new owners who are breaking open the store and throwing out their goods.
Responding, the Council Chairman, Hon Akpoyibo commended the traders for the peaceful protest. He shared in their pains saying he was in picture of what was going on but lamented that his hands are tied over the issue as the Market matter is in the hands of the Delta State Government.
He however assured that he will convey the message of the protesters to the appropriate quarters for consideration and appealed for calm. He told the traders that those whose names do not appear in the last publication have invariably lost out but that such persons should register their names so that he will sort it out in Asaba within the next seven days.
The almost pacified protesters however echoed a resounding “no!” when the Council Chairman directed those who have properties in the reallocated stores to remove them “because the DTSG has not handed over the Market to the LGC so we have no control over the Market”.
As at press time, the disillusioned traders were making plans to take their protest to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Asaba to remake their case.
A statement signed by Dr Kingsley Eze Emu, Hon Commissioner for Commerce and Industry in the Pointer of June 13, said the DTSG has allocated 883 stores at the Ughelli/Ogor Modern Market to new allotees. The statement directed beneficiaries of the allotment whose names appear in the publication to take immediate possession of the stores.