Traders protest looting of shops, ‘hasty quit notice’ in Port Harcourt

*Appeals to Governor Wike to intervene

Okafor Ofiebor/ Port Harcourt

Hundreds of traders at a popular market for sale of vehicle spare parts in Port Harcourt popularly known as Ikokwu market on Wednesday staged a public protest in the oil city over  alleged looting of their goods and property by hoodlums who they said vandalized their shops on Tuesday night.

Some of the traders at the market, the largest for sale of spare parts and accessories in the Rivers State capital said they resumed business on Wednesday morning to discover that their shops and properties have been looted or destroyed.

The traders are accusing their landlords of being behind the act. This was confirmed by a notice pasted at a strategic place in the market. The notice reads, “The family of late Gordon Mail Kpasa have sold the properties known as No.12, 12b, 14, 14b, 16, 16b, and behind St Thomas Anglican Church, Okporo-Woji Mile 2, Diobu Port Harcourt, Port Harcourt City local government area, Rivers State. We have completely refunded the tenants their rents paid. The investor/owner of the above properties will be on ground on or before 30th August 2020 to demolish structures/ buildings/ shanties. Take Note.”

The traders told journalists that an unknown investors bought over the market and had asked them to quit their shops the end of August 30,2020.

The traders said that they were given the quit notice last week and have only three weeks to vacate their shops, an arrangement they had lamented was not possible as the time given for them to quit was too short.

The Chairman of the traders’ association in the market,  Anthony Alaribole told journalists  that the landlords came with armed officers of Civil Defence to destroy their shops and goods on Tuesday evening.

According to him, some of the guards employed by the traders to guide the market were also injured during the incident.

He added that some of the traders who arrived at the market this morning to see their shops damaged, are still standing outside stranded.

He said they remain confused as the three weeks verbal notice given to them to vacate is yet to expire.

The Ikokwu market chairman, however, called for the intervention of the Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike to crisis.

At the time filing this report it was gathered that security men had arrived the scene to restore calm in the area.

Traders at the market had been having running battles with the security agencies, especially the Police since one of their own the late Chima Ikwunado was allegedly tortured and murdered in the cells of Eagle Crack Unit in the Mile One Police Station in December,2019..