EBONYI, Nigeria – Women of the popular Abakpa Main Market, numbering over five hundred, on Wednesday, protested half naked along major streets of Abakaliki, capital of Ebonyi State, over alleged confusion trailing the allocation of shops to marketers by government officials.
The protesters, who stormed the front of Ebonyi State Government House, blocked and barred prominent government officials, including the wife of the Deputy Governor, Mrs Ethel Igwe from gaining entrance into the Government House.
They had earlier stormed Pastoral Centre, located at Mile 50, the home of the Bishop of Catholic Church, Abakaliki Diocese, where they called for his intervention on the alleged refusal of government officials to allocate shops to them.
Recall that the governor, Chief David Umahi had last year given ultimatum of 10th February for the marketer’s to park out from the Abakpa Main Market to the new International Market located along Abakaliki-Oguja Expressway.
DAILY POST reports that the women were carrying placards with various inscriptions; “Abakpa market women say no to intimidation, many have died because of heart attack, widows in Abakpa are denied rights”.
One of the protesters, Nelson Kingsley who spoke to newsmen at the venue said, “yesterday, news came that shops have been allocated to all the market women at the Abakpa Main Market, none of these women are involved in the allocation of shops.
“They don’t know about the so called ‘Market Women Group’. Now, they are revolting in a peaceful manner, that the Special Adviser to the governor who is in charge of allocating the shop, should come out and tell us who he allocated the shops to.”
“Many of these women are widows, they are crying because many of them don’t even have N20000 to purchase form for the shops. We want to know the position of CAN, Ebonyi state chapter,” he stated.
Also responding, the caretaker chairman of Abakpa main Market, Mr Peter Obah said: “I addressed the protesters yesterday, I told them that those who did not get shops should be patient. Some people have started relocating to the international market, while some others are complaining that they don’t have shop, even the few they had, some officials have sold it away.
“Others complained that their own shops were taken away from them and given to other persons. That is what they are agitating for. They are over four hundred in number, including those who did not get shops and those whose shops were taken away from them.
“They are saying that they will not move to the new place until when shops are allocated to them by the committee. Many of them are ready to move but that is the problem they are facing,” he said.
The Governor, who later addressed the protesters through the Special Adviser on internal security and urban utility, Mr Nchekwube Aniako, assured the protesters of the government’s readiness to make sure that they get the shops soonest.
He further urged them to make available the names of those who did not get shops and those whose own were given to other persons.