The Anambra State Markets Amalgamated Traders Association (ASMATA) President General, Chief Ikechukwu Ekwegbalu has cancelled the Nkpor New Auto Spare Parts Association elections following an unresolved misunderstanding between the ASMATA team and the New Auto Spare parts leadership.
Problem started when the ASMATA Boss intended to storm the election premises with over 500 ferocious looking men clad with vests bearing ASMATA inscriptions but those men were refused entry.
Ekwegbalu on sighting men of the Nigerian Army insisted that the soldiers leave the market premises claiming that ASMATA was the only body entitled to provide security for the market elections.
“New Auto Spare parts leadership refused to follow procedure. They went on to arrange for security without allowing ASMATA to provide security for this election security. So there will be no election today”, said Ekwegbalu.
According to the New Auto parts President, Chief Elysius Onyekwelu; “the Honourable Commissioner for Trade and Commerce, Uchenna Okafor directed me to ensure that lives and property of traders are secured during this election”.
“We have been preparing for this election and we kept to the rules and regulations. When the ASMATA team arrived the first thing they said was that Army must go.
“The security personnel present are recognized National Security; The Police, DSS, NSCDC, and the Army. Hon Commissioner confirmed through a phone call in their presence proving that he was aware”.
“Even the Police and DSS were telling the ASMATA PG that they were happy that the soldiers were here to complement their efforts.
“As we were talking more than 500 thugs were offloaded and given aprons to come and destabilize the election claiming to be ASMATA taskforce but some of the real ASMATA taskforce could not identify them.
“Why would somebody involve over 500 thugs in an election almost outnumbering the number of eligible voters and the same person is saying that Army should go.
“We have briefed the Commissioner and the traders are still waiting to have their election despite the inappropriate announcement. The commissioner said Army is part of national security”, said Onyekwelu.
Moreover, the New parts Electoral Chairman, Ifeanyi Mbaekwe narrated his ordeal in the hands of the ASMATA boys alleging that he was beating up after they accused him for not allowing them entry.
According to the electoral committee chairman, Chief Mbaekwe, “the ASMATA boys, believed to be thugs, beat me up, one of them called Onwa, held me and was giving the order”
“They insisted I must produce the key to the main gate and I told them that I was not with the key, over 300 of them were outside and those with me wanted to strangulate me but God saved me”
I urge the state government to allow us to do a democratic election, they should not impose a candidate on us”
Also speaking, a one -handed trader who did not want his name in print said that, “one of them held me and told me that I have only one hand and as such if I don’t behave well that I should be in the grave now”.
“Satchet water, stones and other hard objects were thrown at the security men that included police, civil defence and DSS and over five traders were injured by the ASMATA thugs”.
Addressing newsmen shortly after the announcement, the incumbent chairman of the market who was one of the two contestants to the chairmanship seat, Chief Elysius Ozokwere, said that, “you are all witnesses to what happened here today, how the thugs invaded the market, injuring the electoral committee chairman and many others including throwing pebbles at security operatives”
My interest was not even to conduct the election that time but to save guard the market because if not for the police and other security men they would have looted the shops”
We urge our able bodied Governor Willie Obiano to come to our rescue by ensuring we conduct a democratic election”
The election which ought to commence by 8am after much delay was postponed indefinitely around 1pm.