Lawrence Nwimo, Awka
Traders under the umbrella of Union Plywood and Joinery Association (UPJA) Bridgehead, Onitsha, Anambra State, have threatened to drag the State Government to court if it fails to rebuild structures demolished by its agents recently.
Speaking to Journalists in Onitsha, over the weekend, Chairman UPJA, Chief Emmanuel Obunso, accused the Caretaker Committee Chairman of Onitsha South Local Government Area, Hon. Emeka Orji, of illegally demolishing structures and goods worth over N1b belonging to traders in the market.
According to him, Orji and his agents did not carry out proper checks and clarifications for relevant documents of the building before executing the demolition exercise in the market.
The Chairman who said he had in his possession, all the documents for the buildings including an approval from Anambra State Physical Planning Board, lamented that no notice was given either by the Local Government or State Government before the action.
He also said traders were not allowed to pack out their goods before the destruction took place.
The Market leader said the buildings were erected in 2021 even before the Council Chairman was appointed and that they were not outlaws that would just start building without approval from relevant Government authorities.
He said when the former Commissioner for Trade, Commerce, and Markets, Dr. Obinna Ngonadi, demanded the documents of the buildings, it was presented to him and he was satisfied and didn’t disturb them again.
He lamented that the Chairman as an official of the Government, and his agents failed to follow due process and the rule of law in carrying out the demolition of the plaza.
“We did not build the plaza in secret. It was not built at night. They demanded N30m from us because of the buildings but I don’t have much money to give him. Then the Chairman came and demolished the building. He is a Caretaker Committee Chairman, not even an elected Chairman. It is unfortunate,” he said.
Obunso who said he could not put the actual cost of the damages, said about 30 shops worth over N500 million were involved.
He said some of the traders at the demolished plaza are high net-worth traders and importers, stressing that some of them have goods worth over N150m and N10m respectively.
He called on the Anambra State Governor, Professor Chukwuma Soludo to direct the Caretaker Chairman to rebuild their plaza.
Speaking further, Chief Obunso said if the Chairman fails to comply with their demand, they would have no other option than to head to court to enforce their fundamental human rights.
Efforts to speak with Orji did not succeed as he did not pick calls put through to his phone but when a text message was sent to him, he replied that he was currently in London.