The newly elected chairman of Emodi Shoe Dealers Association (ESDA) of Ochanja Market in Onitsha, Anambra State, Mr. Leonard Umeh (Onyendozi), has given reasons the traders moved against the old leadership of the market.
He said the traders vowed to stop all manner of illegal levies and extortion being imposed on them by the outgone executive led by Chief Nwabueze Umeh.
He said the past executive subjected them to untold hardship and suffering which he said included slapping of traders at will, other abuses unleashed on the traders and non-issuance of receipts to them after the compulsion payment.
“What we suffered in their hands were too much. We were forced to pay without receipts and when you talk, they would beat you and chase you with their thugs,” he said.
Continuing, he said: “There were too much levies, thuggery, extortion and beating which made the traders to live in fear and it resulted in some of them abandoning their shops to ride Keke and Okada to help keep body and soul together.
“When I indicated interest to contest the election, the electoral committee removed my name three times on the allegation that I was owing the market but that was false because the executive bribed them to remove my name”.
He said with the help of Governor Willie Obiano through the executive of Anambra State Markets Amalgamated Traders Association (AMATAS) and majority of the traders, the election was conducted and he emerged victorious with 478 votes as against the runner up, Sunday Ezumezu, who got 221 votes.
Umeh said his victory came in spite of alleged sharing of money to the tune of about N10 million to the traders to vote against him by the executive.
Speaking, the Chairman of the caretaker committee that conducted the election, Sir Clifford Ilodiuba, said the election was free, fair and credible and urged the newly elected executive to carry the traders along.
He regretted that the past executive’s high handedness on the traders which he said resulted in the candidate of the past executive losing out woefully as no trader supported him.
Also, the Vice chairman, Chizoba Nwokedi, said he would collaborate with the chairman to move the market forward even as he commended the caretaker committee for conducting credible election.
In other results, Nwokedi scored 303 votes to beat Emeka Ede, who scored 278 and Okwudili Uwakwe, 41 votes to become the Vice-Chairman.
Obinna Emma Nnubia got 363 votes to beat Udodi Joseph who got 95 votes, Chidera Amage, 56 votes to emerge as the secretary of the market.
Alphonsus Nweze, Awka