The All Fruits Dealers Association at Owelle Grain Free zone, Relief market Owerri, said contrary to the news making the rounds, the association did not protest against Imo State governor Hope Uzodinma, but was only drawing the attention of the governor to the plight the traders in the market are going through in the hands of some government officials.

Speaking with the Daily Nigerian Horn at the Relief market Owerri, the chairperson of the group, Mrs. Charity Samuel said some people purported to be sent by the “Interim Management Committee” IMC, Owerri Municipal Council came to the market and started erecting stores in the free zone and asked the traders to leave the place.

Narrating her story, Mrs. Samuel said they were at old stadium lane and Christ church when former governor Rochas Okorocha asked them to leave and provided the free zone at the Relief Market for them, saying that the government do not want street trading. According to her, the present place which is now in contention was previously uninhabitable but her members laboured so hard to sand fill it and started trading in it, saying the state government gave them allocation paper.

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Mrs. Samuel further disclosed that her members paid the sum of N50,000 to the Owerri Municipal Council as operational permit for the year 2020, N250,000 to Umuiihugba umuodu for tenacy fee, till date, pay sanitation levies, loading and off-loading saying that it is rather regrettable that after all these sacrifices, they are being intimidated to leave the place.

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While appealing to Gov. Uzodinma to come to their aid, she disclosed that Imo State do not have any other fruit markets except the Relief Market saying that there are 500 empty stores in both parts in the market which are yet to be occupied.

Mrs. Samuel commended the Commissioner for Lands, Survey and Physical Planning, Barr. Enyinna Onuegbu who visited the area to see things for himself and give accurate information to Governor Uzodinma saying the Commissioner acted as a patriot and a good representative of the shared Prosperity Government. A member of the association who said he is an elder said the threat by the Umuodu President General and IMC Chairman will lead to a serious crisis in the market saying the traders have done everything needed by relevant stakeholders especially the 10 years allocation papers guaranteed.

It could be recalled that the Relief market traders embarked on a protest on Friday in the state capital, a day after former governor Emeka Ihedioha arrived to the state. Some people had interpreted the Relief market women’s protest as being political. Meanwhile efforts to reach the Owerri Municipal IMC Chairman was not successful.

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