At least fifty people were injured and about 20 shops looted as revenue collectors clashed with traders at the millennium merchants and importers association market, inside Ontisha main market, Onitsha South local government area of Anambra state on Wednesday, October 23, 2014.
Vanguard reports that the melee erupted when Ann Chukwuneke, the chairman of Onitsha South local government area came to the market in company of about 100 youths in order to collect revenue from the traders and stop the street trading associated with the market.
The report states that the officials began dismantling some shops, inciting the anger of the traders, resulting in a free-for-all which left about fifty persons with different degrees of injuries, including the vie chairman of the traders, Peter Okoye.
The traders then began protesting, armed with placards, bearing several inscriptions including: “The council chairman is not a good mother,” “Governor Obiano should remove her,” “We have lost huge sums of money to hoodlums.”
The president of the Anambra State Markets Amalgamation Traders Association, (AMATAS), Okwudili Ezenwankwo who spoke on behalf of the governor, Willie Obiano said Chukwuneke was wrong for storming the market and destroying goods belonging to the traders
He said: “The governor directed me to come and calm the traders and to reopen their shops, that he is looking into the crisis. I am happy the governor is aware because he does not want crisis in the state.”
Speaking on the incident, Valentine Ezechukwu and Obiora Nwankwo, the chairman and former chairman of the market respectively had some strong words for the council chairman, saying her actions were unnecessary, as they had earlier discussed with her as to the development of the market among others, adding that they were still bewildered as to why she had stormed the market without prior notice.
They said: “We gave a token to the council, yet they stormed the market demanding N50,000 per shop.”
The violence was quelled by the police, led by the Onitsha police area commander Benjamin Wordu.