Extortion Wreaks Havoc In Anambra Market

Five persons sustained injury and property worth millions of naira
destroyed during the fracas between traders and revenue agents at
Electrical Dealers International Market on Thursday in Obosi near
Onitsha, Anambra.Trouble started in the morning when the traders numbering more
than three hundred protested to the office of the market’s
Chairman, Mr. Benjamin Orji.



They accused the chairman of conniving with the revenue agents
to extort money from them.
“Our grievance is that these agents collect money from us but
write down a different amount in the receipts issued to us.
“I was asked to pay N36, 000 as tax, sanitation and development
levies but was surprisingly issued with N19, 200 receipt and when I
complained, they started harassing and threatening to beat me.
“This has been their way of extorting money from traders without
the knowledge of the State Government”, a trader, Mr. Uchenna
Uchenowa, said.
Another trader, Mr. Clement Nnabuife said they were asked to pay
tax and levies from 2013 till date.
According to him, we have been paying sanitation levies but for
over two years, no one has collected refuse from the market.
Mr. Chidi Ibagwa, former chairman of the market, said the
payment system was against the instruction of the state
government that all taxes and levies should be paid in the bank.

“The bone of contention is that some people are claiming
ownership of the market and are using the state government’s
authority to collect tax and levies from the people.
“Government should look into the matter to allow us re-organise
ourselves and pay these taxes and levies appropriately”, Ibagwa
said.

He called on the state government to set up a panel of inquiry to
ascertain the root cause of the crisis and ensure the conduct of the
free and fair election of market executives.
Chairman of the market, Mr. Benjamin Orji denied the allegation
that he was conniving with the revenue agents to defraud traders.
“The state government sent people to collect revenue and in the
process, the traders started to attack the officials and destroyed
cars and motorcycles around”, he said.
According to him, the revenue agents came under the directive of
the Secretary to the State Government following a meeting that
held between the executive of the market and the state government
in Awka.

He denied the allegation that the traders were charged exorbitant
rates, saying that the traders were asked to pay N7, 400 as tax,
sanitation and development levies for 12 months.
Although the traders had deserted the market for fear of reprisal,
police officers and security guards were positioned in the market to
forestall further crisis.

Police Public Relations Officer in the state, DSP Ali Okechukwu said
he was not disposed to speak on the matter at the moment.

Source: @anambrastate_ng

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