The International Society for Civil Liberties & Rule of Law
(Intersociety) has called on Anambra state government to allow traders
elect their leadiers and stop endless imposition of government appointed
caretaker committees in the markets.
The group made its demand known in a letter to Gov. William Obiano, the
State Commissioner of Police, Director of SSS and others, insisting that
traders of the Onitsha Drug or ‘Ogbogwu’ Market must be allowed to
choose their leaders through popular and credible election.
Intersociety also further demanded strongly for scrapping,
discontinuation and abolition of all forms of direct and indirect
Government extortions in the Market.
The letter, a public interest dated Feb.10, 2020 was signed by Emeka
Umeagbalasi, Board Chairman and other members.
It insisted that popular and credible elections into markets across the
state are a core foundation for peace and stability and must be promoted
and ensured by government at all times.
“In other words, sustainable peace and stability are found in markets
when their leaders are popularly and credibly elected or chosen by their
“Where there are sustainable peace and stability in the markets,
security of lives and properties are generally ensured and relationship
between government and markets including loyalty and revenue drives
becomes popular, stronger, transparent and credible.
It stated that it further maintained that imposition of caretaker
leaderships or committees and ‘procured’ extension of their ad hoc
tenures as done by the present state government expressly breed rancor
and acrimony and threaten the general security of lives and properties
within the market and in the larger environment or society.
It noted it also promote social vices and criminalities, including
rampancy of trafficking on fake and illicit drugs and consumption of
same in the Onitsha Drug Market.
It pointed out strongly that considering the vulnerable nature of the
Onitsha Drug Market on human health and environment, the all-important
Market ought to and must be governed at all times by the popularly and
credibly chosen market leaders.
“From background checks done by Intersociety, the last time the Onitsha
Drug Market had an election for its leaders was in 2014, which ended in
2018 with four-year tenure and since then till present, it has been one
caretaker committee after the other, courtesy of the Government of
“Today, it is most likely correct to say that the all-important market
is catapulted back into the cave and has been polarized, privatized,
personalized, deeply divided, corrupted, debased, devalued, mangled and
“It is also now reduced to ‘a Government Pit for sundry extortions’;
with Anambra State Ministries of Health and Commerce (if not including
Environment) and Office of the Chief of Staff having a field day,
struggling to out-smart one another using covert and overt extortion
“From our several checks, the all-important market (Onitsha Drug Market)
has become ‘a den of sundry Government extortion’ perpetrated under
different branded canopies and one of such extortionist instruments
regularly in use is a SIENNA car, branded: “Anambra State Government
Taskforce on Fake Drugs & Control, Adulterated & Counterfeit Products”;
with registration number: FKJ 268 EW,” it added.
The Intersociety stated that the state government has fixed what looks
like a kangaroo elections for the Onitsha Drug Market on Feb 28, a move
that has made most traders in the Market to entertain strong fears of
exclusion and likelihood of being visited with an imposed and unpopular
Intersociety clearly recalls that by the existing electoral guidelines
for conduct of elections into Anambra collegiate and direct market
leaderships, adopted for use by the Anambra State Central Market
Association (i.e. AMATAS/ASMATA), Option A4 and 4-year tenure are in
use. For instance, in the Power Tools & Allied Market direct Election of
2017, Option A4 was used. In the Electronics Market direct Election of
2018, same was used and in the Bridgehead mother Market indirect or
Electoral College Election of 2019, same Option A4 was used.
“In direct market leadership elections, voters are accredited from the
Line Register. To ensure that, each line rep is invited during an
election to call the names of his or her line’s ‘up-to-date’ members.
“This is done one after the other till the last line rep is invited. At
the Onitsha Drug Market, membership registers are maintained by each
line which also meets from time to time. In its last election of 2014,
voters were accredited using same method.
“In the election under demand, it is our call and insistence that same
method be used or applied. This shall forestall the non-consensus among
members regarding a generally binding by-law or constitution; or
reported attempts by some persons with vested interests in the Market to
import and impose a discredited by-law or ‘constitution’ for purpose of
using same to skew and manipulate the said election and impose an
unpopular leadership,” it stated.