Onitsha market crisis : AIG orders for external auditor to audit market account


Onitsha market crisis : AIG orders for external auditor to audit market account

By Calis Mbadugha, Onitsha

In his bid to display transparency and restore ever lasting peace sequel to the crisis rocking Onitsha Bridgehead market, Anambra State, which has torn the caretaker committee chairman, Hon. Chinedu Ezekweike and his 13 committee members apart, the zone 13 Police Commander, at Ukpo, Assistant Inspector General of Police, AIG, Mr. Olofin Tony Adejoh, has ordered for an external auditor to audit the account book of the market.

The order, it was gathered followed a petition written by the 13-man caretaker members against the chairman and secretary, Hon. Peter Okeke, accusing the duo of embezzlement of a whopping #50million sum, threat to life, conversion of market property to personal use and conduct likely to cause breach of peace to the Inspector General of Police, IGP, Mr. Kayode Egbetokun, and copied the zone 13 AIG.

Addressing the warring factions at the command headquarters, Ukpo, the AIG reportedly reiterated that the employment of the external auditor would assist in no small measure towards restoring peace in the market and urged for cooperation during the exercise.

The AIG was said to have stated  further that he would dismiss the case if after the audition nothing was found against the market chairman and his secretary.

In his response, the market boss, Ezekweike, said he was in support of the position of the AIG that an external auditor would look into the account of the market leadership since inception, about nine months now.

Ezekweike while fielding questions from newsmen in his office described the opposition members as trouble makers who were only interested in how to share the money generated from the market and not on how to move the market forward.

"They have tried to impeach me, they see me as a small boy forgetting that in leadership there is nothing like small boy. The AIG asked them if they reported this matter of embezzlement of such a huge amount to those (Government) who gave us the appointment and they said yes but that it seems that I have long leg and that may be the reason why Government did not listen to them," he stated 

"In all their petitions against me they are all mentioning money, money, millions of naira, they are trying to impose so many things on me. Before I took up this office Government Checked everything about me and it is my name that will be mentioned for the good or bad of the market not them," he further explained.

The market chairman hinted that  #10,000 monthly stipend he gave to the members was increased to #40,000, monthly which means #10,000 weekly as #10,000 was meagre this economic quagmire but that he has stopped the payment since one of them, Hon. Nobert Okoli came to the office and forcefully removed the record book.

"Until he returns the record book I have stopped the stipend to them. It was removed forcefully by the Financial secretary, Hon. Nobert Okoli, from the office girl that keeps the record," he stated 

"However, I have resolved to make peace with them to continue to move the market forward. Soonest I will call for peace meeting, I have alerted the Board of Trustees of the market of the peace move that would take place in no distant time as to err is human and to forgive is divine," he further explained.

Recall that in the petition to IGP,  through their counsel, Barr. Chiedozie Ogbueli, the 13 members accused the chairman and secretary of generating the money in question through various revenue windows.

"The accused persons have refused to do the needful but have continued to grossly siphon and embezzle the association funds and Government revenue amounting to #50million and refused to call meeting of the caretaker committee members for over six months now. 

"They run the affairs of the market alone so that it will be easy for them to continue their profligacy and embezzlement of the association funds and Government revenue.

"Onitsha South Local Government Area chairman, Hon. Emeka Orji, has wedded into the matter, drew an agreement for ever lasting peace pact but Ezekweike refused to sign the peace agreement as he wants to continue to run the market as personal property.

"He vowed also to deal with us if we do not shut up our mouths permanently threating to ensure we do not again raise a word against him. 

"Being lawful citizens we do not want to take the law into our hands and can't wait for the suspects to harm us before inviting you to look into the complaints for the purpose of steaming the fraudulent acts of the suspects and saving us from any harm that may stem from the threat of the suspects," they pleaded.

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