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Sunday, November 12, 2017

Anambra State Market And Security Challenges - Memory Down The Lane (Part 1)

Following my Great wealth in knowledge and experience in Anambra State Markets structure and security challenges from incipiency; and as a practical trader that have held almost vital and sensitive posts in Anambra Market, from line secretariat to Zonal taskforce leader, to Market Secretary of Onitsha Main Market Traders Union, OMMATU, to the Chairman of Main Market to President Joint Onitsha Traders Union, JOTU, the Central body that once unite all the Markets in Onitsha South and Onitsha North Markets to President General, Anambra State Markets Amalgamated Traders Association, ASMATA. To Consultation to the Government of Anambra State on Market Administration and Union Matters under Dr. Chris Ngige aka Onwa; I hereby vehemently affirm in strong terms without prejudice: state categorically that the ULTIMATE and Prime need of Anambra State traders and Anambra trading community is SECURITY.

In 1973, the famous Ochanja Market went into flames and the traders shops, stocks, cash, among others were burnt completely. In 1975, Onitsha Main Market was opened almost all major textile traders relocated to Onitsha Main market.

In 1977, after the Nigerian Festac Festival, security colapsed in Anambra State. Crime and criminality went out of control that broad day robbery became common and almost acceptable that traders use registers to collect tolls for criminals like David Azubuike Nwagbala aka OTONDO and cohorts.

In 1979, the trauma and intimidation became unbearable. The traders rebellion against crime and criminality lead to the popular BOYS - O-YEE. The traders took their destiny into their hands and burnt those robbers known houses, the hotels and brothels they use as hid outs.

In 1981, Onitsha traders launched an Association known as Onitsha Markets Traders Association aka OMATA. All the Markets in old Onitsha Area Council Authority made up of the present Onitsha South, Onitsha North and Ogbahu LGA respectively, opened branches of OMATA in their respective markets while Onitsha Main market white house serves as the Head Quarters. The Security arm of OMATA known as OMATA BOYS were handling security of the entire markets and environs.
Because Security was capital intensive, the leadership of OMATA devised means of revenue generations to fund the security they put in place, part was by collecting security levies from affiliate markets and then the infamous CONTAINER LEVIES COLLECTION which later lead to the fall of the GREAT OMATA.

IN 1987, OMATA was engulfed with financial crisis, Onitsha Main Market was set ablaze, the Main Market white house was burnt down. The State government set up a Judicial Panel of Inquiry into the OMATA crisis led by an erudite jury , Justice Nwazota. The Panel report indicted OMATA leadership. OMATA was disbanded and the indicted leaders banned from holding any post in any market in Anambra State for the period of 10 years; at these point the Security situation that was almost arrested by OMATA BOYS collapsed again. It took the intervention of the Military personnels and troops moved in the State Military Administrator to curb the crime.

In 1991, Onitsha Area Council Authority was divided into three, Onitsha North, Onitsha South and Ogbahu LGA respectively with different individuals as local administrators. In May 6th,1996, the Onitsha Main Market was set ablaze again, because the security of life and properties of the traders was at zero point.

In 1997, Onitsha Main market traders launched another union known as ONITSHA MAIN MARKET TRADERS UNION, OMMATU. To help us unite again to help ourselves find solutions to our security challenges to no avail.

In 1999, the whole traders in Onitsha North and Onitsha South came togather and launched another central body known as ONITSHA TRADERS ASSOCIATION, aka OTA; with Chief Ubanozie as the President. The OTA security arm known as the OTA BOYS could not sustain the tempo. All these failed attempts were costing the Anambra traders hundreds of millions. At these unfortunate and unpleasant time, people don't sleep in there houses anymore. Women and children either sleep in churches or police stations.

In 2000, as the security situation went from bad to worse, customers has all ran away. The ones that many to come will either be robbed or killed. In same year, Onitsha traders in collaboration with the Onitsha North council Chairman, Chief Chuks Anah aka Mkpakana, brought in the BAKASSI BOYS. The Bakassi boys were too brutal and Carlos that the armed robbers took to their heels. We can remember that any attempt by the State to put the Bakassi boys under check was greeted with indiscriminate closure of markets. Sometimes 3 or 4 times a week, traders will close their shops in solidarity to Bakassi boys that provides temporary solace to crime and criminality.
The traders so much love the Bakassi boys at that time because, they look like the security messiah they were looking for years; until the likes of Eddy Nawgwu, king-de-doga and my Erudite lawyer Barr. Barnabas C. Igwe and his pregnant wife Barr. Mrs Amaka Igwe was murdered. Creating doubt in the mind of reasonable traders that the Bakassi boys were compromised.

In September 22nd, 2002, the Federal government troops lead by DCP. Adanaya Gaya flushed out the BAKASSI BOYS. 19 days after the removal of the Bakassi boys; Armed robbers for the very first time entered inside Onitsha Main Market foreign Exchange line, broke all the stalls and made away with millions of Dollars, Pounds Sterlings, Euros, Nairas; infact Different foreign currencies worth billions were robbed on October, 11th 2002 from Onitsha Main market. How are the mighty fallen. That which we greatly fear, finally happened. Ebube and ibubo Main Market was grounded by robbers.

In 2003, At these point Mr. Peter Obi was campaigning under APGA with the phrase; IS ANAMBRA STATE CURSED OR ARE WE THE CAUSE?. Peter Obi promised the traders that he will chase away robbers & end violent crimes and criminality in Anambra State with jobs and not with guns and matchets. Infact the traders believed him and voted for him thinking Obi was with the SECURITY MAGIC WAND.
In May,29th. 2003, Dr. Chris Ngige aka Onwa as the governor engaged the services of the MMAGBA BOYS working as police informants and security facilitators in Anambra State. And to limited extent permitted me to acknowledge that the MMAGBA BOYS tried but never successful curb crime which failed woefully as Mr. Peter Obi took over on March 17th, 2006. Initially, Peter Obi was confused on the robbery trending all over the State. He could not provide nor use job creation to curb crime and criminality as promised during his campaign days. Egwu a abùrò egwu igba egbe ònù.

In July 2006, Former Gov. Peter Obi could nolonger hold the ground he therefore issued the SHOT-AT-SITE orders. Again the Military personnels and troops moved in with reasonable forces to calm the situation. At the withdrawal of the military boys, Anambra State was greeted not only by violent armed robbers, but kidnappers took over the entire State under Peter Obi's watch. Peter Obi in his efforts to ensure security in Anambra State, bought hundreds of Ford Ranger trucks and shared same to security apparatus and organisations in Anambra State all these to no avail.
In 2010, as Former Gov. Obi came out to seek his reelection, he was rejected by the entire State citizens because his promise to chase away robbers with jobs was a BIG scam.

It took the intervention of Chief Chukwuemeka Odimegwu Ojukwu. Ezigbo Gburu-gburu of the blessed memory, who pleaded with Ndi Anambra to give Peter another chance as his last wish. Yet the security never improved after his reelection.
Anambra traders were left without hope as even the known millionaires in the State are relocating to either Lagos or Abuja for fear of violent armed robbers, assassination or kidnappers. Business and business activities were grounded as customers refuse to visit Anambra State for fear of robbers, investors and foreigners never see nor think of Anambra State as investment safe haven. SECURITY IS AND SHALL REMAIN THE GREATEST NEED AND EXPECTATION OF ANAMBRA STATE TRADERS.

In March 17th. 2014, Chief ( Dr ) Willie Maduaburochukwu Obiano aka Akpokuodike Global, Odogwu Omanbala was sworn-in as the Executive Governor of Anambra State. During his Campaign, Peter Obi swore that Akpokuodike Is divinely appointed and ordained to govern Anambra State. Obi told us that Akpokuodike Is with security magic wand. True to that covenant, Gov.Obiano within his 100days in office was able to indeed FIX THE SECURITY PROBLEM AND CHALLENGES in Anambra State.
Today, robbery and kidnapping is totally reduced. Crime and criminality are no longer fashionable and noticeable. A common trader on the street of Anambra State can attest that Gov.Obiano has solved the riddle of Anambra State Security problems. Anambrarians that relocated due to security lapses are back into Anambra State. People nolonger do their traditional marriages and weddings outside Anambra State. Business and business activities are restored and investors are invading Anambra State because here is the safest State in Nigeria.

WE MUST NOT FORGET SO SOON HOW IT USED TO BE IN ANAMBRA STATE BEFORE THE COMING OF GOV. WILLIE MADUABUROCHUKWU OBIANO AKA AKPOKUODIKE. We may want to sustain what we've achieved in Anambra State Security wise or destroy it and go back to Egypt of violent robbery and KIDNAPPERS.

Think Anambra State, think security of Anambra State, think our future and the future of our children. VOTE RIGHT. VOTE APGA AND SAVE OUR LIVES. VOTE GOV.OBIANO FOR CONTINUITY OF GOOD AND STABLE SECURITY. It's crystalline and barefaced that Akpokuodike did Wounderous well in SECURITY which is vital and paramount to us all.

By Asoanya Emeka

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