By Mokwugwo Solomon
Over 3,000 widows trading in Ogbaru Market, in Ogbaru local government area of Anambra state, under the umbrella of Chukwujekwu Agricultural Products Nig. Ltd., aka Many Widows, have petitioned the wife of Anambra state governor, Mrs Ebelechukwu Obiano, to save them from being ejected from their present location at “Afia Coke” in Onitsha.
In a communiqué issued after their weekly prayer meeting at the market site, yesterday, the group said that one Ngozi Ezeonu built some market stalls at Sakamori area, a swampy axis of the River Niger, and colluded with some government functionaries to forcefully relocate them to the area.
The communiqué titled: “Appeal to Save us from Unlawful Harassment/Intimidation,” addressed to Mrs Obiano and copied to the commissioner of women affairs, as well as commissioner for commerce, trade and wealth creation, and made available to newsmen in Onitsha, was signed by Mrs Gloria Alaebonam (chairperson) and Mrs Rose Igbo (secretary).
The communiqué read in part, “We are crying for an urgent attention to our plights in the hands of people, who want to eject us from our market.
“Her Excellency, Nice Micro Finance Bank, Nise, and one Ngozi Ezeonu, constructed a market at an isolated area where hoodlums and MASSOB members have their base. This market is sited close to the dreaded Sarkamori drainage, close to the River Niger; and those that built it are colluding with some government officials to relocated us there.”
The group recalled that in 2016, when they were made to move to that particular site, majority of widow traders were raped and some lost huge amounts of money; while some were accidentally drowned in the Sarkamori; a development, which, according to them, forced them to move back to their former base at Afia Coke, while some of them relocated to Asaba, Delta state, to settle for business.
While claiming that those that set up the new market did so for their own selfish aims, the widows said that the urgent intervention by Obiano’s wife would save them from being deprived of their means of livelihood.
Calls and text messages put across to the commissioner for commerce, trade and wealth creation, Dr Christian Madubuko, to ascertain his reaction to claims by the widows were not replied as at press time.
The said Ngozi Ezeonu and his cohorts, who allegedly built the new market could not be reached for their comments.
Meanwhile, when contracted, Mr. Emeka Ozumba, the press secretary to Obiano, said he was aware that the women came to the Government House earlier, when they aired their grievances. He said, however, that the wife of the governor was not the right person to petition in matters of that nature since there are authorities constituted by the state government to look after markets in the state.