Onitsha traders protest forceful eviction from business premises

By The Citizen

Traders at the Williams Street Hardware and Furniture Materials market in Onitsha, Anambra State have cried out for assistance over what they termed unlawful and forceful eviction from their business premises by agents of the state government.

Executive of the market, led by its Chairman, Onyeiwu Christian and Secretary, Peter Uzoechi, while addressing newsmen yesterday alleged that some people who claimed to be acting on the orders of the state government forcefully broke into their shops on Sunday and carted away goods and cash running into hundreds of millions of naira.

The traders lamented that those who carried out the act had been compelling them to relocate to their permanent structure located at Ogbunike in Oyi Local Government Area; a move, which they said, was against the will of the traders.

They argued that street trading was a legal business all over the globe, wondering why the state government had not banned such in the state. Most of them, they said owned private shops on Williams Street, Onitsha, saying they had always met their obligations to the state government by paying their stipulated levies.

'They served us eviction notice last Thursday evening and stormed our business premises with truck loads of security agents on Friday morning. They chased us away and started breaking into our shops with welding machines and continued till yesterday. They carted away our goods and cash from individuals ranging from N2 million to N800 million. We are law abiding and we cannot resort to violence and that is why we are crying out,' the traders said.

When contacted, the leader of the eviction/enforcement team and Head of Ocha Brigade, Anambra State, Chief Kenneth Okonkwo confirmed the incident, but said no goods or cash was looted. He said the goods were instead transferred to the permanent site of the traders at Ogbunike and noted that government had to apply force since the traders had rejected all avenues for peaceful compliance.

He said government could not fold its arms and continue to loose revenue from traders while they had a befitting permanent site that could accommodate them comfortably. The Sun