Traders in Abakaliki metropolis have decried the sealing of their shops on the orders of Ebonyi Government.
The traders who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Saturday
in Abakaliki, described the action of government as economic
‘annihilation’ and urged the authority to unseal the affected shops.
The traders said that the shops were sealed by combined task force team and members of the Ebonyi Neighborhood Watch.
However, Mr Emma Uzor, Special Assistant to Gov. Dave Umahi on Markets
in a reaction said that the sealed shops were located in residential
buildings and that government was committed to restoring the Abakaliki
“The Abakpa area originally is meant for residential purposes, but due
to its closeness to the defunct Abakaliki main market, landlords in the
area converted their buildings to commercial shops,” Uzor said.
NAN reports that the affected shops were located along Gunning Road near
the defunct Abakpa Main Market; some parts of the popular Ogoja Road,
New Market Road and Afikpo Road.
Mr Mathew Okorie, whose shop was located in the affected areas said that
his family was at the risk of starvation following the seal up of his
business premises by the state government.
Okorie said that it was becoming very difficult to feed his family and
other dependents because the shop was his only source of income.
“I was attending to a customer, before I knew it, I saw people running helter-skelter, carrying things.
“I just managed to lock my shop and escaped before the task force arrived and sealed it.
“Every other shop around the area was locked. We thought that it was
just the normal routine they do because it had happened in the past when
they were relocating the Abakpa Market.
“Since June 5, the incident happened, I have not opened the shop to sell and my children and dependants are starving.
“I call on relevant human rights bodies to come to our rescue because
the buildings housing our shops are far from the defunct Abakpa Main
Market whose occupants were relocated to the international market in
February,” he said.
Okorie said that he and other shop owners had renewed their rents for
another one year, adding that the shops were not located within the
peripheries of the former market where government banned business
” Throughout the period of discussion about market relocation, we were
not carried along, we were not asked to buy shops in the new
international market because we are not part of the (Abakpa) market.
” I am appealing that the government should allow us to continue our
businesses because we have paid all our taxes to the state and are not
inside the market,” he added.
Another trader, Mr Nnaemeka Anayo who deals on computer accessories
along Gunning Road, said that throughout 2018 and 2019 when discussions
about relocating the market began, they were never part of it.
“In February, when the Abakpa Main Market was relocated to its permanent
place, we were not part of the people that were asked to move,” Anayor
Also, Mr Sunday Uchenna, dealer on phone accessories lamented that the
actions of the task force have affected them emotionally, financially
“Businesses are crashing due to the lockdown occasioned by the COVID-19
pandemic, while families are struggling to survive the economic
“We have been out of business since one week that government sealed our
shops and everywhere in the world and even the most developed countries,
people still do street trading.
“Latest report from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) shows that
Ebonyi is rated poorly and with what is happening now, the state will
still go down because small scale businesses are pivotal to economic
growth,” he said.