Aba Traders Send Save Our Soul Message To Gov Otti Over Incessant Harassment By Nigeria Customs

…as Police confirm attack on convoy of Abia Commissioner

Suleiman Anyalewechi, Aba

Traders and other categories of business operators in Aba the commercial hub of Abia state have appealed to all relevant authorities, especially the Abia state Governor Dr Alex Otti to wade into the constant harassment, Intimidation and extortion of traders by men and officers of the Nigerian Customs Services.

This is even as the Abia state government has assured that it will strive to create an enabling environment for the thriving of all lawful business activities in the state.

The traders who spoke on Tuesday July 25, 2023 on the occasion of the familiarization tour of the Eziukwu Road Market by the Commissioner for Trade, Commerce and Industry, Dr Chimezie Ukaegbu and formal inauguration of its Grand Patrons and zonal executives in Aba lamented the huge negative impacts Customs incessant raids across major markets in Aba has been having on their businesses, warning that they can no long continue with the ugly situation.

Chairman of the Eziukwu Road Market, Sir Alphonsus Udeigbo who spoke for the traders, wondered how the Nigerian Customs has turned all the markets in Aba into border posts, adding that the traders have resolved to put an end to such unprofessional and extortionist tendencies.

“They Customs operators should go to the borders. We are not against them performing their assigned roles. But what we the traders will not accept is for them to leave the borders and continue to harass and extort innocent traders at the markets. The smugglers operate on the borders and it does not make any sense to leave the borders and begin to obstruct business activities in the markets,”Udeigbo noted.

Sir Udeigbo who was a few weeks back inaugurated as the caretaker chairman of the market alongside other caretaker executives of Abia state major markets, promised that his tenure would be marked by a departure from past negative trends, adding that he will work towards improving the market.

The state commissioner for Trade, Commerce and Industry Dr Ukaegbu, and Mr Ogbonna Okereke General manager of Abia State Environmental Protection and Sanitation Agency ASEPA, separately in their remarks reassured of the readiness of the Dr Alex Otti led administration in the state to create a conducive business environment, throughout the state.

The commissioner represented by Chief Onyeka Udeaja, a Labour Party, LP, chieftain in the state stated that Chief Udeigbo was appointed based on his acclaimed commitment, competence and dedication to duty, noting that with the corporation of the traders Eziukwu Road Market will witness a remarkable transformation.

The ASEPA boss, Okereke urged the traders to partner with the Otti’s administration in its resolve to improve the sanitary conditions of the state. 

He noted that traders have a pivotal role to play in the renewed quest for the institutionalization of a healthy waste disposal culture among the residents of the state.

NewsCritic online reports that the Abia Commissioner for Trade and Investment Dr Ukaegbu who was billed for a tour of markets in Aba could not honour his engagements with the traders due to an attack on his convoy at Aba that fateful day, during which two security operatives lost their lives.

According to a statement by the Abia State Command Police Public Relation Officer, PPRO, ASP Maureen Chioma Chinaka, the Abia State Police Command confirmed the reports of an attack on the convoy of the commissioner, as well as the death of two policemen who were shot during the attack.

The press statement dated July 26, 2023 and signed on behalf of the Commissioner of Police by the PPRO confirmed the incident and assured that the Command would do all within its powers to unravel the mystery surrounding the incident and ensure that justice is served on the culprits.

The statement, while condemning the cowardly act of violence, also called on the public to volunteer credible information about the incident, no matter how insignificant any piece of information might seem, in order to aid the Police in their discreet investigation regarding the attack.

The statement reads in part:

“At approximately 4 PM on Tuesday 25/07/2023 a distressing incident occurred at SAMEC, located near Faulks Road in Aba. A group of hoodlums launched an attack on the convoy of the Commissioner for Trade, Commerce, and Industry during the honorable commissioner’s familiarization tour to markets in the Aba metropolis. The convoy was en route to Ekeoha shopping plaza when the armed assailants opened fire.

“Regrettably, amidst the chaos, two police officers lost their lives in the line of duty. A police constable who was part of the security convoy, was fatally shot. Additionally, a police inspector who was not initially part of the convoy but happened to be on a separate assignment with a police Hilux, also met the scene and tragically lost his life. Furthermore, the hoodlums set ablaze a vehicle belonging to the Ministry for Trade, Commerce, and Investment.

“The Commissioner of Police assures the public that every possible effort will be exerted as discreet investigations are ongoing to ensure justice is served. We condemn this cowardly act of violence and remain steadfast in our resolve to bring the perpetrators to justice.

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