Though the issue of extortion, alleged greed and high handedness of the leadership of market associations is not peculiar with Orlu, traders at the international market, Orlu on Wednesday 3rd February 2021 , trooped out in their numbers to protest and register their displeasure with what they described as serial extortion by one Ezeanochie Emmanuel who they said assumed office as chairman of Orlu Market Traders Association OMATA, barely three months ago.
The protesters who marched round the market, blocking vehicular movement carried placards with inscriptions like, “ enough of the extortion, we want to meet with the commissioner, our leaders are heartless” etc.
The spokesperson of the protesters who simply identified himself as Chidi, frowned at the attitude of Mr Emmanuel Ezeanochie, who he said “ has in the past three months that he assumed office as chairman of OMATA, unilaterally and without notice increased all the fees that the traders pay. “ For instance, the N3000 we used to pay for stallage has been increased to N6000 in addition to the fifty naira and hundred naira daily and monthly tolls respectively”.
He noted that the said Ezeanochie “who was Vice Chairman in the market’s past administration supported and worked relentlessly for the actualization of Ugwumba Uche Nwosus’s governorship ambition in the state, through which he made so much money from the Rochas Okorocha administration with which he wangled his way to become the incumbent chairman of OMATA.”
It was also gathered that the embattled OMATA Chairman Emmanuel Ezeanochie has the habit of dropping names of top government officials, including the commissioner who he claims receives greater percentage of all the revenue he collects in the market.
Another source who pleaded anonymity revealed that, aside the International market, Ezeanochie has consistently extorted money from traders in other markers in Imo.
They accused the chairman of constantly using the governor’s name to back up his actions. “Whatever he does, he claims to be in line with the governor’s directive. He also claims to remit most of the money he collects to Chief of Staff. This, we know is not true because the Governor Uzodimma that we know will not tolerate or be party to this kind of serial extortion. That was why we mobilized the traders to stop further payment of any fee, pending our meeting with officials of the state government”
They called on the governor to call Ezeanochie Emmanuel to order and investigate his activities before he destroys the image of the state government and erode the goodwill of the traders towards the shared prosperity administration.
Reports available to our news desk indicate that the protest which started on Wednesday continued yesterday and may take a more disturbing dimension if government fails to take urgent remedial steps to assuage the feelings of the protesting traders.
When contacted, Mr Ezeanochie accused those who peddle such rumours as enemies of the government who want to run the government down.He said that traders in Imo agreed to support the government by paying some money to develop the state.He said over 170 markets in Imo are paying same amount and they are not complaining.