Two Hospitalized As Violence Breaks Out At Umuopara Palm Oil Beach Over Collection of Taxes And Levies

By NewsCritic Reporters

Two people have been hospitalized and others brutalized following the outbreak of mayhem at the Umuopara Palm Oil Beach Umuahia on Thursday 2nd November, 2023, when thugs allegedly hired by the leadership of the Palm Oil Association of Nigeria led by one Chima Ukaegbu descended on the members of the United Palm Oil Dealers Association, a rival union over revenue collection in the market.

At the time of filing this report some of the victims who sustained serious injuries due to the deadly blows they received from the thugs were at the casualty unit of the Federal Medical Centre Umuahia where they were being treated by doctors.

Among the traders who were admitted at the Federal Medical Centre Umuahia are Kingsley Onyemuche Chimaroke and Peter Anyanwu, while Monday Ogunka sustained minor bruises. According to Morgan Ibe Chimaroke, the Chairman of the rival union, trouble started after a truck heading to Jos the Plateau State capital was loaded. He said that at this time the Interim Chairman of the Palm Oil Dealers Association allegedly sent his thugs to lock up the gate to prevent the truck from leaving because they are yet to hand over the money to his man.

They said one thing led to the another and before they could realised what was happening the thugs with the armed security guards, who were sent pounced on the members of the rival union dealing them heavy blows, and brutalized some of them to the point of unconsciousness, before they were rushed to the FMC Umuahia, according to Ibe Chimaroke.

 When visited the casualty unit of the FMC at about 7:00pm two of the victims were seen unconscious and lying on the floor ostensibly due to congestion of space, while the doctors were battling to stabilize them. The third victim according to Ibe was taken to a different hospital for treatment.

The NewsCritic online could not reach the leadership of the Palm Oil Association of Nigeria, however, when contacted the Commissioner for Trade and Investment Dr Chimezie Ukaegbu, said he was not aware of the incident, when he was asked that his junior brother Chima Ukaegbu was accused of fomenting trouble at the market since he became the Interim Chairman few months ago.

NewsCritic online reports that in September 7, 2023 some traders in the beach raised alarm, and called on Governor Alex Otti to intervene as there was imminent threat to the peace and security of the market over illegal collection of levies. They alleged that Chima Ukaegbu, and his group were allegedly using armed thugs to be terrorising traders at the market and collecting illegal levies, which was against the directive of the state government. They were also accused of locking up the shops of traders who failed to comply with their payment order and or using the armed security to eject them from their shops forcefully. They said Chima Ukaegbu boasts of enjoying the protection of the powers that be in Abia State.    

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