By Chuks Eke
Authorities of Onitsha South Local Government Council of Anambra state have intervened and resolved the lingering dispute among members of the Bridgehead market caretaker committee.
Their intervention followed petitions and counter petitions written against themselves by the two factions of the caretaker committee members.
The 13-member caretaker committee had split into two factions with 11 members led by the Committee’s Publicity Secretary, Sir Peter Okala on one side, while Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Chinedu Ezekwike and one other committee member are on the opposite side.
The crisis among the two factions had erupted shortly after an explosion which ignited fire at the chemical section of the market and razed goods worth millions of naira sometime in November, last year.
The Sir Okala-led 11-member committee faction had written a petition to both Governor Chukwuma Soludo and the Onitsha South Local Government council against their chairman, Ezekwike accusing him of sidelining them in day to day running of the affairs of Bridgehead Markets Traders Association, BMTA, adding that they have equally passed a vote of no confidence on him.
The petitioners also accused Ezekwike of fraudulently collecting a total sum of N1.6 million from some of the fire explosion victims who had volunteered their burnt shops for demolition and reconstruction, without due authorization by both the state and local government authorities.
Consequently, they noted that the vote of no confidence passed against Ezekwike would serve as an indefinite suspension on him, adding that henceforth, he should stop performing any function as chairman of the 13-man caretaker committee of the BMTA, until further notice.
Their petition and vote of no confidence led to a brief detention of Ezekwike by the police, on the order of Governors Soludo.
But in a reaction, Ezekwike described action of the opposition members as lack of respect to hierarchy, abuse of privilege and insult to constituted authority, adding that their allegations against him were baselesd and unsubstantiated.
However, in their prompt intervention, the Onitsha South council authorities said upon receipt of copies of petitions against Hon Chinedu Ezekwike and rebuttals, they decided to intervene in resolving issues around the petitions and subsequent rebuttals copied to her as Council.
The Onitsha South council boss, Hon Emeka Orji in a press statement, noted that he decided to intervene in resolving issues in the petition pursuant to the council’s constitutional duties as per Fourth Schedule Paragraph (e) of 1999 constitution as amended.
According to Hon. Orji, “we looked into the claims and counter claims in all it’s ramifications in a peace meeting which lasted for three hours and at last we discovered that issues in contention were very narrow and more like a storm in a tea cup”.
“We further discovered that the disagreements arose out of communication gap within the caretaker committee members and after extensively deliberating upon the issues in contentions, we advised and warned the erring parties to sheath their sword”.
“Consequently, in the end, we are happy that both parties agreed to sheath their swords for peace to reign. They also agreed to continue to work for peace and progress of Bridgehead Market”.
“Parties expressed happiness over Onitsha South Local Government, OSLGA intervention and peaceful resolution of the misunderstanding. Parties also accepted all OSGLA recommendations and road map for lasting working relationships within the Caretaker committee”.