–Demands 500,000 per shop

— We are suffering, haven’t sold for two days – Traders

By Nwogha Ndubuisi, Abakaliki

Six months after the relocation of building materials from the capital city Abakaliki to the permanent site Nkwagu, Ebonyi State government has allegedly sealed the newly constructed building material.

It was gathered that security personnel including members of Ebubeagu Security Network stormed the new building material in the early hours of Wednesday, October 6, 2021 and sealed up the site preventing traders and buyers from accessing their stores.

When our correspondent visited the site, there where heavy presence of military men and members of Ebube Agu securing the site.

A trader who spoke with our correspondent on the condition of anonymity said they were asked to pay the sum of Five Hundred Thousand (N500,0000) Naira, which according to him the reason for the payment was not specified.

“When we couldn’t pay the money, they sent Ebubeagu to come and lock up our businesses. You can see the whole place is Shutdown,” the trader explained

Sealed Entrance to the building material

He narrated that before their relocation to the permanent site they were told to pay 1m for each section, which when divided each shop paid 42,000 Naria which they complied.

Adding that not long after their relocation in the month of August they were told to pay 500 thousand naira each for an unknown reason. Which he said was much as most of them haven’t recovered from the relocation which took place in first week of March this year.

” most of us our goods are at home, some borrowed money for this business, to even pay the 1 million naira which was earlier demanded.

” we were still trying to negotiate and see if the government would collect 100 thousand naira before this happened.

“Right now, we are suffering, there have been no sales for two days”.

“And we don’t know what might happened tomorrow, we pray the issue is being resolved.”

He appealed to the government to have a human face and feel the pain of the masses, as most of them have no other means of survival.

Meanwhile, when contacted on phone, the caretaker committee chairman on building material relocation who is also Commissioner for Land and Survey, Hon. Emma Uguru told our reporter that the money paid by traders is meant to be used for the payment of compensation to host villages and in support of government to provide basic amenities in the Market.

According to him, “Barely one year now that I am in ministry of Land and Survey, and I wish to inform you that the people entered agreement with the host community and state government before the land was acquired.

“Government had given them Izhiamgbo building material market to relocate to that place but they said, No.”

“Thereafter, they were asked to take some part of present day International Market but the traders pointed out that they sell rod and needed a bigger space for their business.

“So, on their own, they met elders of Abakaliki local government being the traditional rulers asking them not to allow the market moved outside the council area and with that, the Amegu people generously offered them that land with reason to pay them compensation”.

Stranded lorry carrying building material

“Thereafter, they started begging the Governor and he told them that anywhere they see land that he would help them and that was what government did by cutting the “TS” and dotting the “Is”, which is doing the necessary things by acquisition of the land since on their own don’t have the instrument to acquire the land”.

“The community had agreement with them like I said before, since there were houses and economic trees there when the land was acquired and by agreeing that once they get there will contribute to pay compensation to those villages which at the end never paid”.

“They kept dillydallying even when they on their own build those houses and not by government, but as tenants in the former area were paying but now refuse maintaining their agreement forgetting that there are alot of work to do there as to meet suppose standard of the state Governor and government can’t do everything for them”.

“Consequently, government sealed the building material market since the villagers have started threatening them that they refused the payment except for the few traders who are now complying but for those who refused to pay will vacate the place.

“The state government can’t do everything, as plan are on ground to fence the market, build internal road and provide necessary amenities in the market, as well, pay that compensation to the villagers as agreed” he concluded