EKEOHA MADMAN SAGA, ANOTHER TWIST, TRADERS ACCUSE MARKET CHAIRMAN OF MANIPULATION

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Eke-Oha: A ‘Mad Man’s’ Triangular War

By EMMANUEL IFEANYI (New Telegraph )

He is known as a mad man. But his recent outburst at a popular electronic and fashion market in Aba, is now a subject of controversy that has roped in political opponents of the state governor, the chairman of the market and traders. EMMANUEL IFEANYI reports from Aba

An Igbo adage said that “in a mad world, only the mad are sane.” This is not far from the situation at the Eke-Oha Market, the number one fashion and electronics market in Aba, Abia State, popularly known as Shopping Centre.

The relationship between the traders and the leadership of the market has been in a precarious situation following accusations of diverse level of illegalities including excessive levies, intimidation and incessant arrest of every opposing voices.

New Telegraph gathered that the Eke-Oha Traders Association Chairman, Mr. Friday Dimiri and a group known as “Concerned Traders” have being in total disagreement over the alleged authoritarian manner he has being running the affairs of the market.

Things however turned to a full blown crisis on August 27, when a popular ‘mad man,’ who specializes in criticizing political leaders, came into the market and was given a VIP treatment to publicly lambast the state Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, tagging his government fraudulent and useless in a video that went viral.

Just a day after that mad man exhibited his activism inside the market, stories began to emerge that the lunatic was sponsored to do what he did. That led to arrest of the mad man.

It didn’t take long after his arrest, a counter video of the same mad man in a room alleged to be the market Chairman’s office emerged as he was reading out names of traders he alleged paid him N10,000 to come to the market and insult Ikpeazu.

New Telegraph gathered that the counter video caused serious pandemonium in the market as all the names listed by the mad man incidentally were names of the Concerned Traders, who do not agree with the market Chairman and his style of administration.

The counter video later took a political undertone when the same mad man linked the accused persons to the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Dr. Alex Otti.

In the video, the mad man alleged that all the people he mentioned their names work for Alex Otti, who is battling it out with Ikpeazu in the tribunal, stressing that they want to destabilize the governor’s administration.

At this juncture, when the whole madness has reached its crescendo, the Concerned Traders led by their spokesman, Hon. Ugochukwu Oriaku, called for a Press Conference, where they told their own story.

Oriaku, who spoke in pains, accused the Chairman of the market of being responsible for the first coming of the mad man into the market and thereafter, decided to use the second video to indict them because they have been opposing his excesses.

In his words: “Our problems with Friday Dimiri didn’t start today. He wants to use this last insane move to tag all of us enemy of our good governor, who recently saved us from one of his illegal extortionist levies.

“The true enemy of government is the man who abandons the duties of his office as our Chairman and now uses the name of government or his little connection with government to defraud, intimidate, frame and dehumanize fellow citizens of which the government knows absolutely nothing about.

“We found out that the welfare of the traders are not his priority because he’s only interested in the allocations from ministry and other money coming in which he showcased by building illegal structures at all corners of the market and since he became Chairman, he has gotten close to 35 shops in his name.

“Since he became the Chairman after writing petitions against former Chairman Augustine Ikpeamaze and Ada Obasi which led to their removal, 98 per cent of traders have not had any rest.”

Oriaku alleged that Dimiri started his intimidation moves by introducing Bakassi Boys into the market as his personal security, which he uses to brutalize whoever opposes him.

He stressed that their interest in the whole thing was for government to remove Dimiri as Chairman since it was government that appointed him, adding that he does not have the interest of the traders at heart.

He continued: “We kept managing him until the 22nd of June when he came to erect illegal structures in our own electronics line late in the evening when the traders have gone home, using same Bakassi to brutalize everybody who got information about the issue, giving people machete cuts.

“The whole problems got hotter not quite long ago. There’s a road inside the market which we call flower pot. It’s not more than two poles. Friday Dimiri poured asphalt on it with our money and now turns around to give order that every shop along that road will pay huge money.

“There are up to 400 shops downstairs, he said they’ll pay N200,000, while the ones upstairs will pay N100,000 to him each. He gave instruction that come or before 20th of August that the money must be paid to him.

“But on the 8th of August, our governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, through his Chief Press Secretary, Onyebuchi Ememanka, made a statement that nobody should pay that money and even went ahead to give him order to refund those who must have paid, but Dimiri defied the governor’s order and kept insisting we must pay.”

Speaking further, Oriaku said: “On the 27th of August, we answered to the invite of the Aba Area Command that there’s a petition against us by Friday Dimiri, who petitioned that we want to kidnap and kill him. We went and Area Command, after hearing us released us to go. On the same 27th, the governor visited some markets in commemoration of the 28th anniversary of the creation of Abia State.

“He took us unawares when he appeared exactly at that flower pot and made another pronouncement that nobody should pay a dime. By the time of his visit, we were at Area Command answering on a petition against us.

“On the same day, we were granted bail at Area Command, Dimiri transferred the petition to Zone-9 Umuahia. On the 28th of August, I was in Zone-9 as well to answer on the petition of attempted killing and kidnapping.

“They granted me bail the same day and asked me to bring other persons mentioned in the petition which is the same name he wrote to Area Command. We all went there on the second and stayed there till late because they said they were coming to our various houses for search which they did.

“We returned back to Zone-9 after the search by 11pm and there’s no way they would release us the same day. They gave us a space where we slept till next day. They brought him and asked us to go outside and settle and we all went home.

“All of a sudden, I was told that a madman mentioned my name in a video. He sent the video to me. That was when the whole plans came clearer to us. His Excellency, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu came on the 27th of August to make that announcement which favoured all the traders and everyone was happy.

“Then on the 29th of August, he, Friday Dimiri and his cohorts brought a mad man to come and speak against the governor, so that he could deceive the government to think that it was the traders that brought the mad man to castigate the same government that saved us from his impunity, so that he could provoke the governor to reverse the decision to enable him force us to pay the N200,000 levy per shop as he desired.

“Now, tell me how we the traders who were very grateful for what the governor did by saving us from our extortionist Chairman now turn around to work against him? It was Friday Dimiri that concocted all the lies.”

Oriaku went on to say that the most embarrassing thing about that video is that the mad man said he doesn’t know the original name of those that paid him to insult the governor and later went ahead to call my own original name. How did he know my original name?”

According to him: “All the names he petitioned to the Area Command and Zone-9 were the same names he wrote down to his recruited mad man to call as enemies of Abia State government.”

“He took our names to Area Command and they found us not guilty. He took our names to Zone-9 and they also found us innocent. He now decided to take our names to the court of a mad man who now declared us guilty.

“Some time ago, he used our money to erect a building for one widow at Ohanze, his Community, claiming it was the first lady that instructed the traders to build for the widow, because Ohanze incidentally is the home of our dear first lady, Deaconess Nkechi Ikpeazu, whom we later found out doesn’t know anything about the whole issue. But Friday Dimiri has been spoiling her good name there at the market claiming he is her brother.

“This First Lady, whom we all know is a loving mother, a caring woman and a woman who loves the traders and we all love and respect her.

When contacted with all the allegations leveled against him, Mr. Friday Dimiri, the Chairman of Eke-Oha Market Traders Association, bluntly declined to comment on the matter, which is currently causing serious problems to the lives of the traders mentioned, their families and friends.

Further investigation by New Telegraph revealed that it was the same mad man that poured serious criticism against the government of Owelle Rochas Okorocha in his second tenure, prior to the 2019 election and may have relocated to Abia State.

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