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IPOB: Anambra traders shut down markets, protest colleagues’ arrest
ANAMBRA traders brought economic activities to a standstill in Nnewi and its environ as they shut down markets in protest of the arrest of some of their members by the police on Saturday.
According to media reports, not fewer than eight major markets were closed in the protest involving nearly 10,000 traders.
The Chairman of the Motor Spare Parts Dealers Association, Gabriel Chibueze, insisted that the arrested members were not members of the Indigenous People of Biafra as claimed by the police but genuine traders in the market. He demanded the immediate release of the arrested members.
Chibueze said the arrested traders could not be part of the clash between the police and the IPOB members, considering the proximity between the clash location and the market.
“The place the protest took place is far from the market. In order to ensure the fracas doesn’t escalate to the market, we the executive closed down all entrances leading to the market while our members continued their business.
“Suddenly, we saw a combined team of police and the army who broke the gate of the bank in the market and started beating our members. They arrested both masters and their apprentices.
“We quickly rushed to the Area command where we made a complaint but the Area Command turned down our complaint, saying we will put him in trouble,” Chibueze said.
He also said that at the time of detention that 43 members were arrested, only 33 of the arrested persons were paraded by the police.
The chairman said that the market will stay under locks in solidarity of their members that were arrested until they are released from custody
“We appeal to Nnewi Police Area Commander, the Anambra State Commissioner of Police, the Inspector General of Police and Governor Obiano to order the immediate release of the Nnewi traders.
“If they are not released, shutting down of the market would be extended to the state and the entire South East,” Chibueze said.
Christina Madubuko, the state commissioner for Trade and commerce, said that the incident was rather an unfortunate one and equally assured fast return to normalcy in the market.
“It is very unfortunate at what is happening here. We don’t encourage violence of any sort.
“I was here on Monday for hours and met with the market leaders, dialoguing and seeking a solution to the problem.
“I went from shop to shop and from the way they spoke, the traders are embittered, especially the women whose husbands were arrested,” he said.
Madubuko, admitting that it was not in his place to pass judgement on which party might have first ignited the clash, he equally made a plea for the arrested members, absorbing them from the incident.
“I can speak authoritatively that the people arrested here are genuine traders. While we seek a solution, I appeal to traders to calm down,” Madubuko said.