–      Youths set houses ablaze

-Accuse APC leaders of fueling crisis

There was tension and uproar in Orlu, on Tuesday 7th August, 2020, following the death of a trader named Chukwuka, an indigene of Akatta in Oru East LGA, who was allegedly killed by a group of government revenue collectors, led by one Emma, popularly called Ematty, whose appointment as Market Master was allegedly  facilitated by the legislator for Orlu State Constituency in the Imo State House of Assembly, Hon Paschal Okorie.Ematty as revealed by our source had worked for Okolie’s victory during the last election.

According to the source who pleaded anonymity, “there are two markets in Okporo Orlu, namely, Nkwo Okporo and Orie Okporo. The former is located at Isiala Okporo, an entirely different community and Orie Okporo then, which is the major market of the community. The government revenue collectors who act and behave like thugs invaded Orie Okporo to collect N5,000 each from traders assisted by axe, gun, matchet welding youths. The traders obviously intimidated and overwhelmed by their menacing approach and demeanor had already started paying the money.

Shortly, the thug-like revenue collectors obviously basking in the euphoria of having intimidated the traders at Orie Okporo to start paying also beamed their search light on Nkwo Okporo, a market located in another community. They tried to force the traders to relocate to Orie Okporo to enable them collect money from them, as they are presently doing at Orie Okporo.

The traders at Nkwo Okporo who faulted the idea of forcing them to relocate to Orie Okporo, that is in another community insisted that, even if they will relocate, the place should be put in order, before they will relocate.

While the argument raged, late Chukwuka, whose late mother used to sell fowls at Nkwo Okporo before her demise, questioned the rationale for asking them to relocate to Orie Okporo and for also compelling them to pay as much as N5,000 each without considering the Covid-19 induced hardship.

“At this point, Emma and his boys who refer to themselves as 5 men, obviously angered by late Chukwuka’s boldness and audacity, pounced him, pushed and beat him and wife who also sell fowls in the market with him mercilessly. All of sudden, one of the self-acclaimed of them brought out an axe and hit him on the head. He slumped and was rushed in a pool of blood to the mother and Child Hospital at Umuowa Orlu, where he later died. His wife who also sustained bruises was treated and discharged”.

It was also gathered that, as news of the ugly incident filtered out, youths of the area mobilized themselves and went on rampage, blocked the roads and set houses ablaze.At last count, over 4 houses have been burnt while also threatening to burn more.

A source who pleaded anonymity, disclosed that, while Hon Pascal Okorie facilitated the appointment of Emmati as Market Master, the latter and his team of revenue collectors are answerable to the IMC Chairman, Mrs Nneoma Ify Ndukwu (Ugosinachi), who is also aware of their activities.

According to him, “the duo of Hon Okorie and the IMC Chairman have a chummy relationship with Ematty and his boys, because they are regularly “settled” from the proceeds of their assignment in the market. That is why they have always ignored the traders’ reports and loud complaints of threats, harassment and intimidation by the desperate and violent revenue collectors, who by their actions, bravado and don’t care attitude are supported and encouraged by superior authority”.

It was also gathered from some people in the area, that this is not the first time that Ematty and his group  are terrorizing traders and residents in the area. They called on security agencies and the Hope Uzodinma government to intervene and avert more harm that will likely result in mass protest of lives and breakdown of law and order, if nothing is done urgently.  

When contacted, the Commissioner for Commerce and industry, Barr Kingsely Ononuju, said, his ministry is not aware of the incident and has absolutely nothing to do with revenue collection in the area.

Efforts to reach the legislator, Hon Pascal Okorie and the IMC Chairman for Orlu, Nneoma Ify Ndukwu were fruitless, as both of them did not respond to our calls. 

Similarly, effort to reach the Imo State police public relation officer(PPRO) , Mr Orlando Ikeokwu to confirm if any arrest has been made  was unsuccessful as he didn’t not take his call.