HUNDREDS of Igbo market traders at the Swali Ultra-Modern Market in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, yesterday, shut their businesses in protest of burglary of their shops by hoodlums.
The traders, who also protested the detention of their leaders by security operatives, threatened to shut down their businesses until their leaders are released or charged to court.
Addressing newsmen at the Swali Ultra-Modern Market yesterday, Secretary of Igbo Traders Union, Jude Osigwe, lamented that most of the traders have lost millions of Naira in cash and goods to hoodlums in the past months. Osigwe said: “In the past eight months, some armed hoodlums have been coming to our shops to extort us and when we reported the matter to the Police, they told us that there is nothing they can do. “When we reported to the market management, they promised to look into the matter. “Only recently, when we came to open our shops in the morning, we observed that our shops have been burgled and cash and goods carted away. “The security men we pay monthly to secure our shops told us it is spirits that are responsible for the theft and in the past three months, over 70 shops have been burgled and goods and cash carted away.
“As Igbo and the majority traders in the market, we are the most affected. Our traders association leaders have been arrested over some allegations and if our leaders are arrested, all of us are arrested and we cannot be trading when our leaders are in detention.”
Ohaneze Ndigbo reacts
Reacting, President of the South-South Youth Wing of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Arthur Chinedu, while demanding the immediate release of the leaders of Igbo traders in Bayelsa State, said the state will experience a total shut down of businesses by Igbo traders. He said: “We are begging for the release of Igbo traders’ leaders in Bayelsa State. The people arrested are the eyes of Igbo people in the business sector and without doing that, Bayelsa State will experience a total shut down of market and businesses in the entire state.”
The spokesperson of the Bayelsa State Police Command, Asinim Butswatt, could not be reached for comments.