A group under the aegis of the Anambra State Market Elders’Forum (ASMEF) has described the recent purported election of Anambra State Markets Almagamated Traders’ Association (ASMATA) as “monumental fraud.”
Uzor Uzor, chairman of the group, said in Onitsha – Anambra state on Tuesday that it had issued a seven-day ultimatum for the immediate dissolution of the purported ASMATA executive and a proper new election should be conducted.
Uzor said the group in a resolution after a meeting in Onitshan said that there was no election of the umbrella market body in the state, rather what happened was the extension of the tenure of the Caretaker Committee as of earlier constituted.
“We call for the conduct of a credible election into the umbrella body of Anambra traders, and representatives of about 65 markets in the state must be present.
“Unfortunately, in this case, the election was shrouded in secrecy.
“There was no notice of the election and people were not given the opportunity to vote and voted for. The entire exercise lacked basic ingredients of democracy,” he said.
According to him, the new election should be conducted under the guidelines of the Amalgamated Market Association of Anambra State Traders otherwise known as AMATAS.
“We call for the dissolution of the executives emerged from the purported fraudulent selection and immediately set up a proper Electoral Committee to conduct free, fair, and credible elections in all the markets in the state.
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“But if the state government fails to do so and continue to impose on the traders of this state their next of kins, they will face massive protests by the traders,” Uzor said.
He said the group expressed shock that Uchenna Okafor, commissioner for Commerce and Market, who has been in government since Peter Obi’s administration was not only present in the election but was behind the fraud.
“That election was part of Gov. Willie Obiano’s undemocratic disposition. There are no representatives of about 65 markets in the state.
“They were just put there as the cronnies of the governor and his wife to be extorting money from traders. The so-called election was a fraud. And they want to replicate that same thing in all the markets in the state.
“They had already tested the fraud at Bridgehead, UPJA, Tools and Allied in the bridgehead market including building material market Ogidi among others.
“They just want to create crisis in the markets in the state,” he said.
It would be called that the traders in the state, under the auspices Anambra State Market Amalgamated, Traders Association (ASMATA) elected new leadership to pilot the affairs of the association for four years.
ASMATA is the umbrella body of 65 major markets in Anambra.
The election monitored by the commissioner for trade and commerce, Chief Uchenna Okafor, saw the emergence of Chief Ikechukwu Ekwegbalu as president-general of ASMATA.
Ekwegbalu, who was appointed as caretaker president of the markets in 2019, was elected as substantive president of the association.
The 10-man Anambra market association executive was elected unopposed through a voice vote in the election conducted by Sam Emeka, chairman of the electoral committee, who read the constitution requirements in the conduct of election before the commencement of the election.
The elected leaders include Chief Ekwegbalu (PG), Ozo Jude Agumadu (1st vice-president), Obinna Okechukwu (2nd vice-president), Uchenna Maluobi (secretary), John Okafor (assistant secretary), Kenneth Onyeka (financial secretary), Louis Onyeabo (treasurer), Sunday Aniakor (PRO), Kenneth Amakaeze (chief provost) and Christopher Nwankwo (welfare officer).
The new leaders were immediately sworn in by the legal adviser of the market association, Barr. Humphrey Udechukwu, who charged them to always respect and obey the oath of their offices and never contravene the constitution of the association.
The president of the markets, immediately after they were sworn in took over the mantle of leadership of the association and further elected zonal market leaders of the association as stipulated by the constitution.
The various zones include Onitsha zone (Sam Emeka), Nnewi zone (Edward Muozom), Awka zone (Emmanuel Achusi), Ogbaru zone (Ndubuisi Ochiogu), Idemili zone (Tony Onwuetiaka), Oyi zone (Chike Obiegbu) and Aguata zone (William Umendiagu).