By Gladys Nweke
The rightful shop owners at the Rumu-woji Mile One Market have kicked against planned balloting system to allocate the newly rebuilt shops at the market by Rivers State Government.
The traders spoke in protest to journalists in Port Harcourt saying the planned balloting was against the promise made by Governor Nyesom Wike while addressing victims of the fire incident at the scene of the incident.
The Rumuwoji Phase Two shop owners want the governor fulfill his promise of giving back the shops to the original owners before balloting the remaining to whosoever that cares for the balloting system.
The aggrieved traders said it would be unjust for the Government to neglect those who rightfully owned the shops and subject all to balloting, saying that former Governor Rotimi Amaechi freely gave back the owners of Phase One shops after he finished building it.
A Human Rights lawyer, Barr O.C Higher King who addressed the protesters said the action of Rivers State Government would amount to violation of human right if government would go ahead to deny the rightful shop owners and subject them to balloting.
Recall that Rivers State Government had rolled out time table for the allocation of the newly rebuilt Rumu-Woji Mile One Market taking effect from 24th of February 2020 which includes verification and balloting for all interested individuals.
The shop allocation which is expected to end on March 3, 2020, with Public balloting was signed by the Commissioner for Housing, Elder Chinedu Tasie, who is the Market Allocation Committee chairman and its secretary, Felix Odungweru.
At the same vein, Civil Society Organizations in Rivers State have vowed to join force with the shop owners to ensure that their shops are allocated back to the rightful owners.
The state chairman of Civil Liberty Organization and coalition of CSOs, Enefaa Georgewill, who spoke during a protest by the shop owners described it as sympathetic the planned balloting system by Government to allocate shops.
Georgewill maintained that the group was already made necessary plans with human rights advocates for a legal action should the government insist on using balloting system to allocate the shops.
He also noted that government must first give back the original owners of the shops before carrying out their balloting with the rest individuals who may be interested or should be ready to meet them in court.