Tuesday, April 12, 2016 10:24 pm
*Protesters vandalise council boss’s residence, father’s too
Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt
Traders, predominantly women, invaded Udu Council secretariat in Delta state sacking all personnel including security guards in protest over a new daily market levies being introduced by the local government.
The traders in thousands, from all markets across Udu local government area, took over the Udu-Jeremi-Ughelli Expressway at dawn, shutting the busy road to traffic as the procession headed for the Udu council secretariat, Otor-Udu.
At Otor-Udu, the defiant protesters took over the council secretariat, sacking all personnel who had resumed duty before starting a bonfire on the barricaded expressway and at the council entrance , where they vowed to stay-put until the said new levy was reversed by the council chairman, Chief Solomon Kpoma.
According to the new levy, lockup shop owners are reportedly required to pay N300 per day, open air traders to pay N200 while hawkers would pay N50 per day.
Emmanuel Kpomanuvie, Chairman, Ekete Market Association said: “The chairman has been imposing all forms of levies since assuming office. Recently, he imposed N200 per cow slaughtered at the market abattoirs. Not long after, he shot it to N1000 per cow.
“We have been agitating for a stop to that oppressive levy because the council provides no development in the markets. Now we are faced with daily levies. We reject this totally. Traders pay yearly levies to the council. It should stay that way. Times are hard for everybody. This is totally unfair.
When contacted, Chief Solomon Kpoma said he was at a crucial meeting and would need some time to get details of the situation and assess probable damages done before making a clear statement to the press.
He confirmed that the protesters stormed and vandalized his residence at Kporharor Estate, Edjophe, not far from the Udu council secretariat, adding that damages were also done to his father’s home in Otor-Udu.
The council boss was yet to come up with his “clear statement” at the time of filing this report, but the protesters were dispersed by men of the 222 Battalion of the Nigeria Army later in the day.