Published On: Sun, Apr 23rd, 2017

Tension As Onitsha Traders Allege Extortion Against Ocha Brigade


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The activities of Ocha Brigade, a private security Firm  being used by the Anambra state Government to raid illegal  street traders have been  generating  tension in the state.

Market leaders in Onitsha, the commercial nerve centre of the State  have  accused the commander of the Brigade Mr. Kenneth Okonkwo, of working at cross -purposes with Governor Willie Obiano’s mandate.

Chief Eric Umacoma, the Chairman of  Onitsha South Shop Owners, told news men in Onitsha that Okonkwo runs an illegal private cell in Awka,  where he detains and extorts money from his victims

 

 “l am  afraid  that what this man is doing will effect our Governor’ss second tenure bid. Even police Army and other uniformed  organizations cannot do what he is doing. He is taking  laws into his hand, working against the Governor’s interest. I wonder whether this man want Obiano to come back. He will soon run into touble  with traders” said Chief Uwaoma.

He alleged that Chief Ohonkwo’s men came to Zik Avenue by Ochanja , Ozomagala  Street to arrest his boys and carted  away his members’ wares.

Uwaoma lamented  that Chief Okonkwo carried out these operations against the directive of the Governor that before any of those his illegal arrests and raids, he should brief the should chairman  but he did not.

 

But Ohonkwo in sharp reaction when called on his cell phone denied  having a private cell and using Police to intimidate, extort and sieze traders’ wares as alleged by Chief Uwaomam, saying that he was raiding the streets in the overall best interest of the State.

However, Chief Uwaoma  said on April 3, 2017 he raided street traders at Ziks Avenue, where his men carted away their wares.

On April 11, 2017 at Ozomagala street,  said Uwaoma,  Chief Ohonkwo’s boys arrested a member of our task force, Uchenna Nwakalor, who collects  the AMATAS’ welfare revenue for them, dumped  HIM into their vehicle and took him to Awka, where he was detained for three days in his private cells.

He said the boy was released after the payment of N20,000 bail fee in addition to N5,000 they collected from him when they  arressted him,  alleging that he was treated  and made to take  photographs like common criminals.

“What  this man  is doing  with Ocha brigade is kidnapping. I call on theGovernor to stop him now. He is termishing his image.He  boasts  that police in  the state cannot do anything . But he should not do this  this critical period we are going into an election. The best he can do is to join the campaign to help the Governor return back. I was shocked that after the meeting at Governor’s lodge, where he was warned, he went ahead to raid our people ’ said Chief Uwaoma.

However the  Ocha Commander said they were working to sanitise the state, saying that street traders have taking over Ochanja Round About through Zik Avenue, displaying their wares on the road with ignominy.    

He  said that as an enforcement agency, they don’t just go out of their way to raid  any place  but with directives, saying that they acted on the directive  of the  Ministry of Environment  officials due the way they abused the  road.

Okonkwo said they do not return the traders’ wares because they have discovered that the traders  don’t feel any pain   after paying   N5,000 or N10,000 they, hence the long seizure.

He also said that they work in concert with the police, stating that 30 mobile policemen and 10 from state Criminal Investigation Departments , so anybody arrested was arraigned in  court the following day.

“Anybody who wants to attract sympathy can say anything. All we do is to sanitise the state. We use the police to carry out our raid. People behave as if there is no government. No, if you give them one revenue window, they will duplicate it and start extorting money from people. We will not allow that” said Okonkwo.

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