By Ijendu Iheaka
Mr. Cletus Okorie, Former Chairman, Ariaria Medicine Line has alleged that Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu’s government has not completed reconstruction of the demolished Ariaria A Line shops because the governor wants to settle his cronies with the shops.
Okorie disclosed this to newsmen in Aba while explaining their complaints against the delay and stagnation in the reconstruction which is yet to take off fully since September 2021.
He further alleged that Ikpeazu never wanted to return the shops to their original owners who bought land and built them but desires to give them as gift to his cronies before his tenure ends.
“There was no forum the governor told the traders that he will rebuild and hand over the shops to them rather it was in the news media that we heard it.
“There was no time the governor called shop owners to a meeting to tell them this is how we are going to do it, what he would do, what is his own take and their own, there was nothing like that.
“From the onset, governor Ikpeazu did not intend to reconstruct and restore the A Line shops to its original owners, but his intention was to collect the shops from their owners and to use it to settle their cronies”, he said.
Okorie said that the situation on ground where no construction is going on had proved the traders’ suspicion right that the government came under the pretence to check flooding in the area.
He, however, said that the flooding now had become worse and the zone had turned to a river.
Some other traders who craved anonymity corroborated Okorie’s statements adding that they have been told now to pay a bank N20, 000 and N5 million respectively for form and shop reconstruction to enable ownership.
They said such a condition for owning shops they built after they had been rendered penniless because of stoppage of their businesses was heartless of the government.
However, Mr. Michael Egwu, the Permanent Secretary, Abia State Ministry of Trade and Investment, while responding to allegations against Ikpeazu’s government said they were false, denying that the delay had political reasons.
“We have Architects, and Engineers and all the professionals who are consultants on their own.
“Governor assembled them to ensure that the jobs that are being done there (at the sites, including Ariaria Market), will stand the test of time and outlive the generation that is to come, at least up to 100 years”, he said.
“If other factors like the rainy season and delay in funds affected the project does that take us to the argument that probably government doesn’t want to complete the project? That is a no”, he said.