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Obiano Govt Must Refrain From Imposition Of Caretaker Committees On AMATAS & Anambra Markets …Intersociety Warns

By Intersociety
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Onitsha: June 1, 2019: The Int’l Society for Civil Liberties & Rule of Law, INTERSOCIETY, had written the Governor of Anambra State again in less than two weeks through the State Commissioner for Commerce, Trade, Etcetera; Mr. Christian Madubuko, PhD, calling for total discontinuation of planned imposition of Government appointed Caretaker Committee to oversee the affairs of the Anambra Markets Amalgamated Traders Association, AMATAS. The letter, successfully delivered yesterday, 31stMay, was copied to the Anambra State Commissioner of Police and Director of SSS.

The tenure of the elected leaders of AMATAS, scheduled to expire later this month was abruptly dissolved yesterday, 31st May 2019 by the Government of Anambra State, in readiness for the announcement of a caretaker committee any moment from now. The present AMATAS leadership, headed by Mr. Okwudiri Ezenwankwo; last elected in June 2015, is coming to end next month, being June 2019, with fresh election scheduled to hold on 5thof the same month.

Intersociety had on 13th May 2019, updated on 14th, written to the Governor, calling for total democratization of the Anambra markets, specifically the Onitsha Bridgehead Central Market Association and the leadership of AMATAS, which elected leaderships had been scheduled to expire in May and June 2019, respectively. Our letter had also called for institutionalization of democratic process in the entire markets in the State and total discontinuation of imposition of caretaker committees in the market associations which elected tenures have expired or are very close to expiration.

Our letter followed alleged discontinuation of electoral process that will lead to the AMATAS general election, scheduled for Wednesday, 5th June 2019 and the planned imposition by the State Government of a caretaker committee to run the affairs of the State mother Market Association.

AMATAS is an umbrella Market Association for all recognized markets in Anambra State. Presently, the mother Market Association operates with 72 registered markets and their associations. The 72 registered markets are drawn from central market associations with hundreds of mini markets and their associations spread across the State.

Elections into AMATAS leadership positions are conducted using a college of electors, comprising chairman and secretary of each of the 72 registered markets with three other delegates drawn from each of the 72 markets; numbering 360 electoral college delegates. It is from the college of electors that the new President Gen of AMATAS and other officers are elected to serve for four years, renewable for another and final four years.

Accordingly, we have it on good authority that procedures for the election have been put in place and processes advanced; with time, venue and date of the poll fixed; only for some persons with vested interests to turn around and start agitation for cancellation of the poll and imposition of a caretaker committee. Critics and close sources have pointed accusing fingers in the direction of some political appointees and associates of the Obiano Government.

It is also strongly alleged that one of the negative factors responsible for agitation for cancellation of the poll and imposition of a caretaker committee is the so called “OMAMBALA Solidarity”. If true, then this is nothing short of institutionalization of mediocrity, favoritism and nepotism. Strangely and despicably, there have been “anti election” and “pro caretaker” protests held recently, specifically on 24th May 2019 at the Awka Government House. Government must allow the traders free hand to choose or elect their leaders.

Critics had further alleged that the pro caretaker protesters were hired or recruited from “Anambra market of the rented crowd” by some political appointees and associates of the present Government of Anambra State as well as some market leaders drawn from the Onitsha Textile Market and the Onitsha Main Market. Critics further accused the said market leaders of jostling to be appointed as caretaker committee members in place of the scheduled poll.

We hereby call on the Obiano Government to rise to the occasion by ensuring that the scheduled election is brought to fruition and completeness. It is despicable and condemnable for a group of people in this democratic era to be recruited and used as anti democratic forces; by selfishly opposing a clearly scheduled election.

Condemned too is the alleged anti democratic role of some political appointees and associates of the present Government of Anambra State-a two times beneficiary (2013 and 2017) of popular or majoritarian democratic process in the State. The scheduled AMATAS election must not only go ahead and concluded as scheduled, but also made popular and credible, devoid of roguery, rancor and acrimony.

Finally, we wish to align ourselves with a reported joint anti caretaker and pro election resolution passed two days ago, 29th May 2019, the 62, out of the 72 registered market associations under AMATAS through their chairmen and secretaries. The written resolution was reportedly passed at the State Secretariat of AMATAS, Modebe Avenue, Onitsha; calling for the AMATAS election to be conducted as scheduled. The joint resolution was reported to have rejected in its totality the planned imposition of a caretaker committee as the next AMATAS leadership.

Apart from ensuring that the AMATAS election is held as scheduled, the Government of the State must further ensure that the present State Government appointed Caretaker leaderships at the Onitsha Main Market (OMATU) and the Onitsha Drug Market or OPPMDU and any other market in the State are dismantled and scrapped; with new elected leaders returned to the two Markets and any other.

This statement was signed by Emeka Umeagbalasi, Board Chair and Barristers Uju Igboeli, Head of Civil Liberties & Rule of Law, Chinwe Umeche, Head of Democracy and Chidinma Udegbunam, Head of Publicity. Intersociety is reachable through www.intersociety-ng.org or [email protected] .