“Following discreet investigations, it has been uncovered that political foes of the government and those who are unrepentantly uncomfortable with the speed and accomplishments of the Honourable Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Barrister Kingsley Ononuju (Ekwedashike), are behind the latest attempts by some sulky traders allegedly led by one Sopuruchi, from Anambra State, to discredit and embarrass him with baseless allegations as published by one local tabloid based in Owerri, which thrives on irresponsible and yellow journalism without scruples”.This is according to some stakeholders of the market who spoke to our reporter on condition of anonymity.

It would be recalled that in response to the yearnings of traders at the Relief Market Plaza Owerri, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry embarked on the renovation of Relief Plaza including part of the roof blown away by wind and heavy torrential rain, recently.

According to a release, signed by the acting Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Mr I.B Uhwa, the renovation, which is ongoing, will include remodification of the toilet facilities so that it can accommodate the physically challenged and that was what the traders misconstrued as conversion to new shops and sale of the open space to developers.

The release frowned at and condemned the attempt by one Sopuruchi and his sponsored team to rope in the Commissioner into a matter, he is innocent of.

According to our source, the Commissioner is committed to a conducive market environment. “It is a demonstration of utmost stupidity for one to think, write or insinuate that a Commissioner, who has been talking of modernizing Imo Markets with toilets and other necessary infrastructure, will turn around to convert such toilet to shop”, the release stated.

It further disclosed that the same people who are fighting against the renovation work at Relief Plaza, are also kicking against the ongoing revalidation exercise for traders and shops at the same Plaza because they have skeletons in their cupboard.

“Meantime, this group of rebellious traders also stated that they have deposed the Interim Management Committee Chairman appointed and recognized by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, because of his refusal to co-operate with them in their nefarious and diabolical effort to enthrone and entrench illegality in the market”, the release concluded.