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Unremitted revenue controversy: Anambra reopens sealed Odera Market temporarily

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. summons fleeing market leader over alleged diversion of govt revenue

By Chuks Eke

Anambra State government has temporarily reopened Odera Shopping Complex/Market in Awka which it sealed off recently following alleged non remittance of state government revenues generated from the market.

The reopening of the market followed an elicited undertaking from the market stakeholders and traders that their Chairman, Emmanuel Nwonwu who has remained incommunicado should honour government invitation which mandated him to appear before the state revenue house today being Monday to give an accurate account of revenues he collected from the traders on behalf of the state government.

The Task Force of the State Internal Revenue Service,,AIRS operating as Unified Hybrid Enforcement Team, UHBET under the leadership of the State Coordinator in-charge of Anambra Central Zone, Evaristus Offor had stormed the market premises last Thursday snd sealed the market for lack of traders’ compliance to market fee/levy payments.
But some traders in a show of bravado resisted the UHBET officials, arguing that they are not owing the government having paid through their Market leader, who did not issue them receipt.

According to an eye-witness, there was no records of such payments, prompting them to put calls to the Market Chairman, Nwonwu to show up and produce the receipts of the said oayment.

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However, the calls were not responded to and this irked the Task Force to seal the market.

Investigations revealed that it took the intervention of some stakeholders of the Odera Market led by the Vice Chairman, Chief Ikechukwu Ugwuoke and the Secretary, Emeka Nwagbala for the un-sealing of the market.

Our source hinted that the re-opening has a condition attached to it, as there was an agreement that the Market Chairman, Nwonwu should appear on Monday, March 4, 2024 before the Task Force at the Revenue House to show evidence of payments as claimed by the traders, failing which the market would be re-sealed.

Speaking to newsmen on the development, Ugwuoke lamented the unfortunate incident, blaming the Chairman of insensitivity to needs of the traders, worsening their plight, adopting high-handsdness to run the affairs of the market and blocking moves to install democratically-elected leaders many years after his tenure expired.

He expressed dismay with the unforeseen development, as he observed that the unsealing of the market is only tentative as the AIRS officials have threatened to come back and re-seal the market if Nwonwu failed to appear before the Task Force team at the Revenue House, Awka on Monday, today.
According to him, the Market Chairman has been severally accused by the traders of running the market as a personal affair, without an official bank account and co-signatories as provided by the Constitution of Odera Market.
Contributing, the Secretary, Nwagbala, pioneer Chairman of the Market, Chinweze Ijomah and one-time Chairman of Task Force on Security Fee Collection, Humphrey Onuorah confirmed the claims of some of the traders that they paid their fees/levies to the Chairman for onward transmission to and receipting by governnent officials, but without getting official receipts thereafter.

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They alleged that Nwonwu was enjoying illegal occupation of office as Chairman after over two years of expiration, arbitrarlly collection of revenues without issuance of receipts, being unaccountable and using threats to lives to cow his opponents.

They also called on Governor Chukwuma Soludo to use his good offices to appoint a Caretaker Committee to run the Affairs of the market for some months in order to prepare groundworks for election of new officers.

The stakeholders and traders also observed that Nwonwu is serving a third term in office whereas the Constitution of Odera Market stipulates a three- year tenure and renewal once .

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