Army, thugs, traders clash over market elections in Onitsha

Okegwo Kenechukwu

 

There was pandemonium at the New Auto Spare Parts Market, Nkpor in Idemili North Local Government Area of Anambra State yesterday, following a clash between the Army, thugs and traders over the conduct of the market election. Saturday Telegraph gathered that trouble started at 10am in the morning when the President of Anambra State Market Amalgamated traders Association (ASMATAS), Chief Ikechukwu Ekwegbalu, stormed the market with members of his task force numbering over 200. On getting to the market he saw a detachment of Army officers fully Armed and directed that they should leave the market before the election would be conducted. But the traders refused his task force entry into the market when the president directed that the Army officers should not be part of the election.

There was confusion following the argument that ensued and people had to run for safety when both parties started throwing pebbles and stones. This development prompted the ASMATAS’ president to suspend the election indefinitely. Speaking in an interview with journalists, the incumbent chairman of the market, who is also contesting for a second term in office, Chief Elysius Ozokwere, admitted inviting the Army officers to the market to help provide adequate security during the election. But Ekwegbalu, who also reacted, accused the military officers invited by the chairman of the market of being there to cause mayhem, even as he said they were on illegal duty. He said: “We use our task force, the police and DSS in conducting our elections into various markets. The invitation of the Army was strange.

“To my surprise when I asked the chairman, who invited the Army, he said he was the one. “Then I directed him to ask them to leave but he refused. It is my duty to invite the security operatives in any market election in the state and the Nkpor New Auto Spare Parts Market election is no different. “I went there with only 35 members of my task force, having earlier made arrangement for the police presence during the election. “I have to call off the election till further notice because we don’t want a breakdown of law and other.”

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