Anambra traders ban daily prayers in markets…Alleges Extortion

Anambra State Amalgamated Traders Association (ASMATA) said it has placed a ban on daily and weekly prayers in markets in the state.

President General of the body, Chief Ikechukwu Ekwegbalu, made the disclosure on Wednesday in Onitsha while addressing market union chairmen and secretaries.

He said the market general prayers would henceforth be held once a month.

He said the proscription became necessary following alleged extortion and conversion of the spiritual exercise to a political jamboree.

He said, “This move became very necessary because we have discovered that some overzealous ones abuse this practice by extorting market men and women regularly of their hard-earned resources.

“Some have turned the prayers into a somewhat political jamboree and this is not healthy for the system.

“All market leaders are expected to meet with the traders and unanimously agree on a suitable date and ensure to observe the monthly prayers within a stipulated time of between 7am to 10am.”

Ekwegbalu frowned at the attitude of involving the police or Ministry of Trade and Commerce when issues that should be resolved within the market leadership arose.

He urged traders to seek redress through the appropriate processes within the ambits of the constitution when there were disagreements.

The ASMATA boss also condemned revenue racketeering, urging leaders of various market union to dully remit revenues generated from their respective markets into the state government coffers.

On the forthcoming election, Ekwegbalu said there would not be extension at the expiration of each tenure.

He said, “We call on traders vying for elective positions to follow due processes in the course of their campaign in accordance with the constitution of the market and not engage in any activity capable of threatening the credibility of the election.

“We are looking forward to a peaceful, credible and a transparent election this time around.”

On his part, Commissioner for Trade, Commerce, Markets and Wealth Creation, Mr Christian Madubuko, urged the market leaders to block all revenue leakages across the markets.

He warned against diversion of revenues which he described as an attempt at stalling the progress of the state.

“There will not be enough funds for the government to make available the needed developmental projects if individuals continue to milk the revenues,” he said.

Madubuko charged market leaders to ensure traders pay their stallage fees and other revenues promptly, warning those attempting to divert same to desist forthwith or be fished out and prosecuted accordingly.

He also warned touts and crooked market leaders to stay out of the upcoming election or be ready to face the full wrath of the law.

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