Traders in the Ebonyi State International Market have accused the government of extortion and illegal demolition of their shops.
The traders, who are about two thousand in number, are majorly yam sellers in lot two of the market.
They alleged that agents of the government have on different basis extorted them with seals from the government.
Speaking anonymously, a trader in the market alleged that their shops were demolished after they paid over N50,000 each to the governor’s special assistant on market development, Ngozi Obichukwu.
Also speaking, a widow who sells yam in the international market said the moves by the government will further cause hardship and suffering for traders in the state.
A trader, who was in tears while narrating her ordeal, pleaded with Governor David Umahi to save them from the ongoing extortion, while also stating that many of the yam sellers borrowed huge loans from banks and financial institutions to build the shops that are now being demolished by the government.
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She also revealed that a levy of N50 was forced on them even after the initial payment.
On her part, the Chairperson of the Yam Dealers Association at the International market, Chinwe Umeh, lamented that it has become difficult for the traders to repay their loans due to some government policies.
While Umeh agreed that the shop allocation fee the traders paid earlier will expire by next October, she insisted that there was no due communication by the governor’s side.
Umeh said, “We thank the governor for bringing us out from our former shops where our yams worth millions of naira were destroyed by heat. We were happy about the allocation of these new shops. Our yams are no longer destroyed and we are comfortable here. But unfortunately, we saw some men who came and said that they were directed to demolish the shop, because, the shops defaced the international market standard. We need the intervention of the governor.”
Reacting to the allegations, Obichukwu said the shops were demolished by the instructions of the governor, noting that the shops defaced the international market standard.
“Whatever they are talking about is their business, and I don’t support evil. I pitied them because the shops are not inside. They paid money to the government account and not me, the evidence is there.
“The reasons why the government is demolishing their shops is because they are yet to roof the shops and it is defacing the international market,” she stated.