AKHERE Godwin, Benin
Traders at the Uromi market in Esan North East have appealed to the state governor, Mr Adams Oshiomhole, to direct the Chairman of the council, Mr Sam Oboh, to refund the N350, 000 levy allegedly imposed on them for the purpose of rebuilding the burnt market.
The traders in a statement signed by Chief Udo Ebakota and Mrs Otoide Agnes alleged that they have cause to believe that the fire which destroyed over 1000 shops and goods running into millions of Naira at the market was stage-managed.
“The council asked all of us traders to pay a levy of N350, 000 each to enable it build an ultra-modern market but we said the amount was on the high side. We were still appealing to the council when the market went up in flames”.
The traders said that with the governor’s donation of N25 million to the council to erect the new market, they are surprised that the council is insisting on the N350, 000 levy.
They said, “this is why we have asked the comrade governor to come to our rescue and look into this matter devoid of politics. The council has received over N50 million since the fire”.
The traders say they fear their shops would be re-allocated to the highest bidders after the construction by the council, hence their appeal to the state government.
Efforts to get the council chairman’s comments on phone failed as calls were unanswered. However, his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Godwin Ikpinokhuo said on the phone that the council only asked traders to apply for shops in the new market which has attained 80per cent completion.
He did not, however, say if the traders were required to attach the said amount along with their applications adding that ‘the new market was an electioneering campaign promise of the council boss, hence ,he cannot levy the people.’