Tension in Onitsha as Obiano shuts down 70,000 street traders’ zone


Governments seem to operate in mysterious ways. Now, traders numbering over 70,000 are said to be in a state of war, even before foreign invaders or herdsmen ever dream to attack them.


There was tension in Onitsha, commercial hub of Anambra State on Saturday when police and other security agencies took over Modobe plaza in Madueke Street, sacking the traders.

The closure was sequel to the order of the government to shut down street trading in the state.

The commissioner for Trade Commerce and Wealth Creation, Dr Christian Madubuko had on July 19 in the morning stormed the market with a detachment of security operatives and ordered the security agencies to shut down the market Plaza.

He told  traders numbering over 70 000 people to vacate the Madueke Plaza, Onowu Anatogu, Afubera and other adjourning street immediately or face demolition.

He warned them that the state government has decided to shut down the market, following government ban on street trading.

He directed the security agents not to allow the traders to open their shops for business in the area while advising them to relocate to a private market built by some traders at Ogbunike in Oyi Local Government Area of the state.

The commissioner was accompanied by the Area commander Onitsha, Mr John Obuagbaka during the visit.

The Chairman of Madueke Traders Association, Mr Bede Iwunze said most of the traders had no shop at the Ogbunike Market built by the Provision and Cosmetics traders.

He said that the Madueke plaza is a private plaza built by Modebe family and they are tenants to Modebe family.

He said that most of the traders cannot afford the money to buy shops at the Ogbunike Market.

He passionately appealed to Gov. Willie Obiano to come to their aid so as to give them a soft landing.

“We have children and dependents and we have no other means of livelihood except our shops.

Another trader, Mr Jude Anibueze told our reporter that some group of importers, at Afubera Street had also built shops for themselves at the Ogbunike Market and wanted to move them by force to their shops where they would pay exorbitant price.

Chairman of Modebe Street Traders whose name was simply given as kpajie Modebe told them not to worry that they had gone to court with the state government over the same matter and got judgment in their favour.

“The plaza belongs to Modebe family and not government”.He, however, told the traders who contributed money or own shops at the Ogbunike market to relocate to the market, if they so wish.

“We are  not asking you not to go to the market if you want, but for the plaza it is our own and nobody  or group of persons can eject you from here, if you wish to stay,’’ he concludes.

Meanwhile the police at the area command had while leaving the market arrested some traders and whisked them away.

The order and the arrest has also prompted stampede in the market as traders scamper to pack their goods to a more safer place, while hoodlums cash on the opportunity to cart away goods worth millions of naira.

When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer of Anambra State police command, SP Harunna Mohammed, said he had yet to be briefed on the closure of the market.

Observers wonder how the traders were sensitized and mobilized to support the government action, when the police enforcing the action could admit they have not been briefed on the closure of the market.