By Phil Okose Onitsha
A lawmaker in Anambra State House of Assembly representing Oyi constituency, Hon. Charles Chinedu Obimma, weekend condemned the alleged invation and disruption of the conduct of election of the Nkpor Auto Spareparts market, Idemili North Local Government Area, with more than 300 thugs who stormed the arena with the President of Anambra State Markets Amalgamated Traders Association, ASMATA, Chief Ikechukwu Ekwegbalu.
The lawmaker who is the House committee chairman on Trade, Commerce, Industry, Markets and Wealth Creation, discribed the action of ASMATA President as most unfortunate.
“What happened is completely wrong, the ASMATA President should not come with such large number of miscreants to provide security as he claimed that they were to assist in security.
We condemn in its entirety the action the action of the ASMATA President”
“We will summon him and make sure the election is properly taken care of. Internal democracy of the market must take place. Traders should be allowed to conduct their elections and ASMATA or whoever witness the conduct of the election as observers and make their report”
“ASMATA has no business with the conduct of the election and unfortunately we were not notified of the election as House Committee on Trade, markets, industry and Wealth Creation, we are supposed to be notified”
The invaders who dressed in yellow apron, had on arrival, wanted to force the iron gate open if not for the intervention of the police and other security operatives at the gate who prevented them.
In anger, some of them forced their way into the arena through other flexible gates, man handling the Electoral committee chairman, Chief Ifeanyi Mbaekwe and ordering him to produce the keys to the main gate.
According to the electoral committee chairman, “the ASMATA boys, believed to be thugs, beat me up, one of them called Onwa, held me and was giving the order”
“They insisted I must produce the key to the main gate and I told them that I was not with the key, over 300 of them were outside and those with me wanted to strangulate me but God saved me”
“I urge the state government to allow us to do a democratic election, they should not impose a candidate on us”
Also speaking, a one -handed trader who did not want his name in print that, “one of them held me and told me that I have only one hand and as such if I don’t behave well that I should be in the grave now”.
“Satchet water, stones and other hard objects were thrown at the security men that included police, civil defence and DSS and over five were injured by the ASMATA thugs”.
“it was obvious that the ASMATA President had in mind of imposing the candidate of his choice and that was why he came with over 300 thugs, all dresed on apron with the inscription, ASMATA Taskforce, their number was even more than the eligible voters in the market and what the traders did was just looking at the ASMATA president as he was dragging the image of the state government to the mud”
Sensing danger and seeing that the traders were hell bent on conducting a democratic election, the ASMATA President, Ekwegbalu, announced that the election has been postponed indefinitly.
“I have post poned the election because I don’t see the reason why the soldiers should be within the arena of the election” said Ekwegbalu.
He denied that the over 300 boys who came with him were thugs but ASMATA taskforce men that would help on security.
The incumbent chairman of the market who is one of the two contestants to the chairmanship seat, Chief Elysius Ozokwere, said, “you are all witnesses to what happened here today, how the thugs invaded the market, injuring the electoral committee chairman and many others including throwing pebbles at security operatives”
“My interest was not even the conduct of the election that time that the thugs invaded the market but to save guard the market because if not for the police and other security men they would have looted the shops”
“We urge our able bodied Governor Willie Obiano to come to our rescue by ensuring we conduct a democratic election”
One of the thugs that invaded the market while pleading that he did not want his name in print told newsmen that, “we came from different places for this thuggery job for the ASMATA President and we were given the apron right there at the election arena on arrival, we are not members of ASMATA taskforce but we were asked to wear the apron to gain entrance into the election arena and then vote for a particular
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