Open Letter To Anambra Governorship Transition Committee And Governor-Elect, Soludo

By International Society For Civil Liberties And Rule Of Law (Intersociety) 

Open Letter To Anambra Governorship Transition Committee And Governor-Elect, Soludo

Date: Mon 24th January 2022
·Dr Mrs. Oby (Obiagaeri) Ezekwesiri (former World Bank Top Official)

Chairperson, Anambra 2022 (Governorship) Transition Committee

·Prof Charles Soludo (Charlie Nwa Mgbafor N’ Isuofia)

Executive Governor-Elect, Anambra State
Dear Chairperson/Prof Soludo,
Account Of Stewarship: Unmasking The Rot In The Anambra State Ministry Of Commerce, Trade And Investment Under Commissioner Uchenna Okafor (“Wiper”) Shall Be One Of Your Focus Areas

…the rot includes kangaroo “unopposed” elections, endless-tenure caretaker committees, erection of illegal structures, loss of huge government revenues, brigandage/thuggery, extortion and fraud in Anambra markets

…he must be stopped from conducting another kangaroo election (“unopposed election”) in the Ogbogwu Int’l Market scheduled for 2nd Feb 2022

Intersociety, Onitsha, Eastern Nigeria
The Int’l Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety) is bringing to your attention the above subject matter and its subs. This is for purpose of ensuring that your attention is not only drawn but also to unmask the key areas requiring your forensic attention and relevant investigative and advisory action that will eventually lead to the executive attention and action of the incoming Governor of the State of Anambra. It must be stated that apart from the over-bloated composition of the Anambra 2022 Governorship Transition Committee, Intersociety totally agrees with the Governor-Elect and the Chairperson of the Committee on the Committee’s mandate or terms of reference including repositioning the Anambra Markets competitively, peacefully, progressively, productively, industrially, developmentally and strongly supportive by and of the incoming Government of Anambra State. Therefore, achieving this feat by your Committee will be a near impossibility unless the likes of referenced Ministry and its Commissioner are thoroughly audited and their activities in the outgoing eight years especially since 2019 forensically unmasked and dispassionately looked into.

Commissioner Uchenna Okafor (“Wiper”) Must Be Stopped From Organizing Fresh Kangaroo (“Unopposed”) Elections In The Markets Including Ogbogwu Int’l Market

Commissioner Uchenna Okafor and his Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Investment are setting Anambra Markets on fire and returning same to the dark days of violence and brigandage; thereby laying landmines for the incoming Governor/Government of Anambra State so as to inherit corruptive, rancorous and turbulent Markets and their leaderships. These, the Commissioner and his Ministry have been doing since 2019 when he was moved to the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Investment as a Commissioner. He also resorted to use of “your caretaker-for-millions” and presently “from your caretaker to unopposed tenure election-for-millions” since June 2021. The two extortionist and fraudulent policies are simply explained to mean ‘installation of a caretaker committee in place of popular and participatory election whereby the Chairman of the Caretaker Committee is discreetly compelled to dole out millions (usually N5m-N10m depending on the size and financial muscle of the Market/Committee Chair). Such money is not seen anywhere reflected in the Government official book of account. The payer of the amount is further mandated to renew same at the end of every three months alongside getting automatic caretaker tenure elongation on quarterly basis.

The extortionist policy was in June 2021 and in some markets changed to “from your caretaker tenure to unopposed tenure election-for-millions”-whereby the said amount of money or more was discretely doled out by key members of the caretaker committees of the affected Markets including Chairman of the each of the Caretaker Committees for purpose of being retained in a kangaroo election clearly lacking in credibility, popularity and inclusiveness. June 2021 marked the beginning of the “unopposed elections” under Commissioner (‘Wiper’) Uchenna Okafor which started with the “election” of the present executives of the Ogidi Int’l Market, followed by those of Old Iron (Akpakara) Dealers Markets (1 and 2) at Onitsha Bridgehead. Other beneficiaries of the discredited “unopposed elections” are the present executives of the Tools and Allied Market at Bridgehead Market, the “ASMATA” (supposedly Anambra Central Market Leadership) and the Bridgehead Central Market and so on. It must be remembered that a letter on this was written by Intersociety and addressed to the Government of Anambra State and key Anambra Governorship Candidates including Prof Charles Soludo on 12th July 2021.

Attempts By Commissioner Okafor To Foist Handpicked Caretaker Committee Members As “Unopposed Elected Leaders” Of The Ogbogwu Int’l Market Must Not Be Allowed

It must be recalled that popular election into Ogbogwu Int’l Market since 2018 has been stalled by several negative influences and forces especially by Commissioner Uchenna Okafor and his Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Investment. The Market has been under an over-bloated “57-Person Caretaker Committee” since 2020 and is heading into its second year as against the Market’s elective office tenure of four years. Intersociety has spoken out and written severally demanding for popular and inclusive election to be conducted in the Market and the Commissioner and his cohorts have maintained a deaf stance and refused to act. Instead, they are bent on installing handpicked members of the Market’s Caretaker Committee including its Chairman as the next “unopposed elected leaders” of the Market. This is to the extent that by their conspiracy, a phony name (“Ogbogwu International Traders Union”) was recently registered at the CAC for purpose of desperately organizing a discredited election through the so called “Delegate Election”; thereby disenfranchising over 95% of the traders of the Market; an illegitimate practice applied at the recent Bridgehead Central Market “unopposed election” .

The Commissioner and his Ministry have also concluded plans to return the present members of the Ogbaru Relief Int’l Market Caretaker Committee as “unopposed elected executives or leaders” of the Market. Their so called “unopposed election” has been fixed for tomorrow, Tuesday, 25th Jan 2022. As if these were not enough, the Ogbogwu International Market was two weeks ago flooded with arms wielding thugs and brigands who matched line by line and accompanied by the Caretaker Committee Chairman, issuing open threats of violence through a megaphone against traders of the Market especially the proponents of popular and inclusive direct election into the Market’s elective offices. Petitions from aggrieved traders are presently all over the place including offices of DSS, State Police Command and Principal Officers of the outgoing Government of Anambra State. Tens, if not hundreds of millions of naira has also been extorted and pocketed particularly since past three years or 2019 by some Principal Officers of the Anambra State Government.

Ogbogwu Int’l Market is one of the most vulnerable Markets in Anambra State. It is also extortion prone. This, the Government and security operatives’ extortionists do by claiming to be “checkmating fake and sub standard drugs”. As a matter of fact, almost every Ministry in the outgoing Government of the State has maintained unofficial “Ministry of Ogbogwu Affair” through traders of the Market, ‘the good, the bad and the ugly’ has steadily been milked dry. At our last checks in 2021, it was found that almost every Ministry in Anambra State has raised extortionist taskforce for purpose of making ‘easy money’ which ends up in private pockets.

Intersociety hereby calls for the stoppage of the kangaroo “unopposed elections” scheduled by Commissioner Uchenna Okafor and his Ministry to be held tomorrow, Tuesday, 25th Jan 2022 at the Ogbaru Relief International Market and the most controversial of all fixed for Ogbogwu Int’l Market on next week Wednesday, 2nd Feb 2022 and flushing out of the executives produced by them if defiantly held. The incoming Government of Anambra State is also called upon to review and flush out the so called “unopposed elected Markets’ executives” produced in various Markets since June 2021.

Fraud: Un-Receipted Collection Of Stallage Fees/Market Taxes

The above fraud was a commonplace in the past three years and by extension since 2017 in various Markets in the State. This is whereby most traders are not receipted when the Ministry sends its field officers to collect Market stallage fees and so called “traders tax” running into hundreds of millions naira per annum. Many, if not most traders have not been receipted in the past three years; and by extension since 2017. The Transition Committee/Governor-Elect, Prof Charles Soludo is hereby put on notice and called upon to do the needful. That is to say that Commissioner Uchenna Okafor and his Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Investment have critical questions to answer on this.

Indiscriminate Erection Of Illegal Structures Had Dotted Anambra Markets

This has been the order of the day under Commissioner Uchenna (“Wiper”) Okafor and his Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Investment; done in conspiracy with installed Market Caretaker Committees or “unopposed elected others”. At the Bridgehead Central Market, spaces reserved as garages or escape routes in the case of emergencies have been filled up with illegal structures which explain the extension of date for opening of Market from 4th to 11thJan 2022. Another clear case in point that has raised a lot of dust can be found at the Onitsha Main Market leading to recent or ongoing outcries and Government’s volte-face, pretension of innocence and fire brigade approach. These are just but a few to mention.

Extortion And Loss Of Huge Government Revenues Under Commissioner Okafor

Intersociety will soon make public the expenditures, revenue accruals, revenue losses and borrowings under the outgoing Government of Obiano. As for the Commissioner and his Ministry under reference, extortion and huge loss of Government revenues was a common feature especially in the State’s 62 major Markets. Revenue or toll receipts are like pool tickets with multiple hundreds existing in various Markets in Onitsha and environs including roadsides alone and whereby in the end, only a fraction is reflected in Government book of account with not less than 80% others privately diverted and pocketed. This is not to talk of daily/weekly/monthly “returns” from installed Market leaders amounting to tens, if not hundreds of millions of naira per annum.

Therefore, the Commissioner for Commerce, Trade and Investment, Uchenna (“Wiper”) Okafor should be the ‘special guest’ of your Committee to say all he knows concerning same including where all the money has gone. The Commissioner’s rendering of the account of his stewardship to your Transition Committee/Governor-Elect shall also include furnishing the Committee in ‘his honor’ with lucid details of his private investments including their locations and value, if any, before his appointment as a Commissioner and details of same presently including locations and value which must be clearly verified.

For: International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law

·Emeka Umeagbalasi, Board Chair
·Chinwe Umeche Esquire, Head of Democracy and Good Governance

·Obianuju Joy Igboeli Esquire, Head, Civil Liberties & Rule of Law Department

·Chidimma Eva Udegbunam Esquire, Head of Campaign & Publicity Department

·Comrade Samuel Kamanyaoku, Head of Field Data & Documentation

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