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Sapele traders battle Okowa over market relocation



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THE directives by Delta State to Sapele Market traders to relocate from their stores or collect money earlier paid into government coffers, have met with stiff opposition as the traders have vowed not to relocate.
The angry traders clad in dirty clothes were reported to have chanted war songs on the streets of Sapele and its environs, calling on Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa to rescind his decision or face their wrath.
The traders who carried placards bearing inscriptions such as: “Mr. Speaker stay your own’, ‘Government allocated the stores to us, We took exclusive possession of them’, ‘Okowa, remember, anything that comes around goes around’, ‘Sapele market traders dey cry o’, ‘Okowa be focused and don’t be deceived, Watch Mr. Speaker carefully’.
The Sapele market stores were allocated to the traders under the then Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan’s regime but are now engulfed in litigations in the attempt by the state government to re-allocate them.
The traders said they suspect the undue interference by the State House of Assembly
Speaker, Mr. Monday Igbuya, in the matter and they have asked him to steer clear.
Counsel to the traders, Barr Obakpolor Emmanuel told our correspondent that the past administration of Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan upon the allocation of the stores to the traders entered into a perfect agreement with a directive to pay the annual rent to a particular account in Sterlin Bank.
He said that the present governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa surprisingly came up with a scheme to serve the traders who have already taken exclusive possession of the market stores to vacate the market to enable government allocate same to other persons.
In the wake of the revocation order, the traders engaged the services of a legal practitioner, Barr. Obakpolor, who had since filed the case in court with suit number S/45/2015.
Barr Obakpolor advised the state government to take recourse to the Justice Ministry for clarification whether such directives are legally binding as the traders have started paying for the stalls occupied by them to the bank of government choice and already the matter s before a court.
“I do not know whether the state government is aware of the legal implication of the revocation order especially s the traders have not defaulted in the payment procedure,” he added.
According to him, the rule is that when a matter like this is court, all parties must wait till its determination. But in this case the state government, through the Commissioner for Information, Mr. Patrick Ukah, just announced that the state government had revoked the contracts following petitions from various groups in Sapele over alleged marginalisation and other related acts saying that the revocation was done in accordance with the laws of Delta State.

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