Some women traders at the Ahiaukwu Market in Umuahia-South Local Government Area of Abia State, on Thursday, staged a peaceful protest against a new N16,000 levy imposed on them for the construction of a uniform table, by the Olokoro Welfare Association (OWA). The market women also threatened to go unclothed if urgency was not applied to their complaints.
The market women, during the peaceful demonstration, showed placards that urged the newly-elected executive of OWA of their responsibility to restore stability in the market instead of introducing an overbearing taxation regime.
The protesters, led by Adanne Gbaruko and Chibuzo Ekeleme, marched to the palace of Eze Cyril Ogbenna, the patron and Chief Security Officer of the market, in Uzi-Amizi, to register their grievances.
“Your highness, we came to you because we believe that you are the only king in Olokoro that stands for fairness and justice among the other traditional rulers. We are not in your palace because we are annoyed or angry with you, but we are here to register our grievances with the hope that you will help us to solve the problem as our patron,” they stated.
“We cannot afford it; even the N200 daily levy, we find it difficult to pay as a result of low patronage. Members of the newly-elected executive of OWA were not elected for this. They were elected to correct the wrongs in the Ahiaukwu Market and Olokoro in general, where gangsterism and cultism have been the order of the day. We will have no option but to protest naked if no urgent step is taken to address our complaints.”
Imposition Of N16,000 Levy On The Market Women.
One of the traders in the market who refused to disclose her identity, bewailed the huge levies levied on them, which she said were no longer easy for them to pay. She also stated that most of the petty traders were widows with many children to train in school or skills acquisition centers; while some were tenants striving to pay house rents.
The trader further stated that apart from the newly introduced levy of N16,000 for iron tables, which they had rejected, they were also authorized to pay the sum of N2,000 daily for waste disposal and N500 daily levy.
She told reporters that the new executive had given May 30th as deadline for the payment. She also stated that payments for the uniform table shall be made into the chairman’s personal account at a microfinance bank in Umuahia South, citing that the penalty, the executive said, would be unfavourable.
Assurance From The Patron To Investigate The Complain.
The traditional ruler, while addressing the market women, advised them to be peaceful and eschew any action that could trigger the breakdown of law in the community, promising to look into their complaints.
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