…as Council Boss vows to unravel, prosecute fraudster
The Uyo Local Government Chairman, Elder Imoh Okon was, yesterday, angered by report of illegal activities said to have been going on in the Uyo Main Market popularly known as Akpan Andem Market.
The market’s Traders Welfare Association led by the Market Management Committee Chairman, Mr. Obot Udofia had, yesterday, met with the council boss at the Local Government Secretariat to give a situational report of the market and also solicit the Chairman’s intervention.
The Council Boss while welcoming the traders said he summoned the meeting following distress calls he has been receiving from members of the public, particularly, patronisers of the market alleging all sort of criminal and unlawful activities in the market ranging from incessant extortion of money from traders, illegal task force, illegal revenue to harassment of buyers by fraudster.
He said it was very unfortunate that even senior citizens and high profile personalities who visit the market for one reason or the other are not spared, talk less of strangers and common citizens.
The physically angry looking Chairman said he will not in anyway tolerate illegality and distortion of peace in the market, warning that the Akpan Andem Market belongs to Uyo Local Government Council and therefore must be operated on the strict conditions of the council.
Further, he wondered why people will masquerade themselves as agents of Uyo Local Government to commit unlawful act despite the council’s directive dissolving all revenue and working committees and therefore reminded that his administration had earlier dissolved all revenue committees and ordered a stop on collection of money for market stalls, space, tables and platforms pending the restructuring of the market management committee and revenue committees by the council.
While announcing that all committees and task force set up by previous administrations had all expired at the end of that administration, the Chairman mandated Mr. Obot Udofia to continue in his capacity till further notice.
He also urged the market union to conduct election and select those they find capable of steering the affairs of the market and communicate to the council, the new leadership of the union and also stressed that neither him (Imoh Okon) nor the entire council is interested in the conduct of the union election, hence will not interfere.
On the report of fake ticket called HAWKERS’ PERMIT printed by fraudsters in the name of the council to extort #3000 from petty traders, Elder Imoh Okon said he will stop at nothing to unravel those behind the criminality and make them to face the full wrath of the law in order to serve as deterrent to others.
Reacting to the report that some members of the market management committee are heading to the court to challenge decisions of the Uyo Local Government council, Elder Imoh Okon said those heading to court for any reason must be ready to use their personal money to fund the court battle as no amount of money will be raised in the market to fund the court case. Consequently, the Chairman ordered that henceforth no trader in the market should pay any levy to anybody in the market including electricity bill and security levy.
The Chairman assured that his government is sensitive to the plight of the traders and the customers having sworn by the oath of office to protect the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and deal with everyone without fear or favour.
He urged the traders to be law abiding and go about their normal business as sanity will be restored to the market not later than 31st January, 2018.
Responding, the traders thanked the Chairman for stepping in to arrest the worrisome situation in the market, saying that God brought him (Imoh Okon) at this time to rescue Akpan Andem market traders from the hands of fraudsters.
Speaking on behalf of the traders, Mr. Isaac Otang extoled the Chairman for having the interest of the traders at heart, saying that the traders will now have a relief from their oppressors and incessant extortion by impersonators, a development he said has since made the market not favourable for business.
He prayed God to give the Chairman more wisdom to reposition the market and take it away from the hands of fraudsters, even as they pledged corporation and continuous support to his administration.
Also in attendance of the meeting were the Leader of Uyo Legislative Council, Hon. Nathaniel Sabestian, the Secretary of Council, Lady Stella Odua, the Head of Uyo Loca Government Service, Mrs. Jaja and the Deputy Leader, Hon. Anthony Ekong among others.
Meanwhile, in a move to arrest all lingering crisis and other reported criminal cases in the market, the Uyo Local Government Chairman, Elder Imoh Okon has today summoned an emergency Akpan Andem Market security meeting with the Uyo Divisional Police Officer, in attendant.
Topping the agenda of the meeting was the alleged harassment of motorists within and outside the market by touts who impersonate themselves as Uyo Local Government task force.
Briefing the Chairman, the security personnels complained that the fake task force agents who are commonly known as ‘Area Boys’ are powerful than the security personnels and as such always beat them up whenever they (area boys) are confronted.
On the fake ticket (Hawkers Permit), some of the security personnels confessed being responsible and vowed to desist from it.
The security personnels also lamented that the management of the market is owing them over two months salary and pleaded with the Chairman to interven so that they can receive their owed salaries.
Responding, the Chairman said he is all out to return normalcy and sanity to the market and warned all those indulging in criminality to desist as he will not spare anyone who goes against the law.
He also warned that the council has stopped collection of all levies except daily toll of N100 (One hundred naira), stressing that anybody caught will risk prosecution.
While informing the security traders that the Divisional Police Officer has been directed to tighten security within and outside the market, Elder Imoh Okon solicited the corporation of the traders on his bid to bring back the market to life.
(c) NDANTI EKUH