Suspected thugs beat up traders in Calabar market, forcefully eject them from shops despite court order

ec transcorp hotels watt market x
ec transcorp hotels watt market x

From Judex Okoro, Calabar

Thugs suspected to have acted on the orders of Calabar South local government authorities have allegedly beaten up the vice chairman of vice chairman of Calabar Watt Market Petty Traders’ Association, Mr. Chinedu Igwe, and several others to a pulp and forcefully ejected them from their shops at Watt Market Shopping Center Complex, Calabar despite court order.

The suspected thugs were said to have been sent by the Calabar South council chairman, Mrs. Esther Bassey, to eject the traders, claiming they (traders) have refused to vacate their shops on December 30, 2022, as earlier agreed between authority of the council and the traders’ association.

The Calabar Watt Market Petty Traders’ Association and Okrika Traders Association have been in running battle with the Calabar South local government authorities over rent, leading to subtle threats and counter threats by council authourities who are hell bent on taking back the shops.

The traders alleged that despite paying their yearly renewal fees, shop rents, daily levies and Court orders, the council and its agents, the council is still went ahead to increased their renewal fee and forcefully collected same from them.

In Suit No.HC/382/2022, the traders, represented by Ike Bassey, Chinedu Igwe, Justina Okwugo, Judith Olichi Ozor, Ejije Nnaji, Sunday Okoh Chigozie Samuel and Loretta Madu, for themselves and representing the members of Okrika Traders Association in Open Space at Shopping Complex, Watt Market, Calabar South sought an “Order of Interlocutory Injunction restraining the defendants, their agents, servants, privies or any one acting under their authority from using thugs or other unlawful means to eject the Claimants/Applicants from their spaces at the Shopping Complex, Watt Market, Calabar or doing anything inconsistent with the rights of the Claimants/Applicants pending the determination of the substantive suit”.

The traders tried to make the council authourities see reasons why there should not be excess charges on them they (council and its agents) instead resorted to the harassment, intimidation and the torture of the Claimants/Applicants.

But despite all these, the hoodlums numbering over 20 stormed the market premises at the early hours of Monday and moved into various shops and started throwing their wares out and anyone who resisted them were thoroughly beaten just as some of them were injured in the process.

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The development created pandemonium as shop owners and early morning buyers scampered for safety while the thugs had a field day, throwing their goods out and took possession of the affected shops.

A witness, who simply gave his name as Nwankwo, expressed shock at the attitude of council authourities who resorted to using hoodlums to attack them despite the fact that the case had already been instituted in court waiting to be heard.

Speaking with journalists on the matter, the council chairman, Mrs. Esther Bassey, denied the allegation of extortion leveled against the authority of her council, and admitted that the victim, Mr. Igwe, who is the vice chairman of Calabar Watt Market Petty Traders’ Association, was beaten up and being treated at the council’s expenses. She however, said Igwe started the trouble as he was said to have hit one of the boys with an iron rod.

“Of course, you know how young people behave. He was beaten on the basis of his unruly behavior, when the young man and his colleagues tried to fight back. He is one of those traders who reneged on agreement made with the market authority. We had agreement that they are to vacate the stores on December 31, 2022.

“Unfortunately, when the council authorities visited the market premises and accosted Mr. Igwe on why he and other traders were yet to vacate their stores as signed in the earlier agreement, the traders’ association vice chairman got angry and hit one of the council agents with an iron rod, incidentally fight broke out.

“I have copies of agreement that we had between the traders’ association and the council that they will vacate the stores on or before 31, December 2022,” she stated.

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