Market leaders pledge to partner with Soludo's Anti-touting squad

Market leaders pledge to partner with Soludo's Anti-touting squad

Market leaders pledge to partner with Soludo's Anti-touting squad

By Chinwe Nwacha, Onitsha

Sequel to the inauguration of the Special Anti-touting Squad in Anambra (SASA) last Monday by Governor Chukwuma Soludo with the mandate to eradicate  touts  from  Anambra markets and roads, the market leaders under the auspices of Anambra State Markets Amalgamated Traders Association (ASMATA) has pledged to partner with SASA to actualize the task.

Speaking during the general Congress of all the major markets in Anambra State at the ASMATA Secretariat, Modebe Avenue, Onitsha, President General, ASMATA , Chief Humphrey Anuna tasked market leaders to discontinue issuing any form of unauthorized tolls especially from hawkers, barrow pushers and customers.

"God knows I have been trying my best for the interests and welfare of the traders in one hand and in the other hand  ensuring that government's revenues are remitted as and when due and that peace is maintained in the markets".

"Let us all co-operate with Professor Soludo's fight against touting. He is well educated and knows what is best for Ndi Anambra because he has the interest of the masses at heart. This is a welcome development. 

"Today, we have invited SASA and the various Revenue collection agents authorized  by the Anambra State Internal Revenue Service (AIRS) to educate us on how to identify touts or fake revenue collectors. As they drop their contacts do not fail to ensure the arrest of any tout operating within any market under your care. Before governor will indict me, I will indict any market leader found culpable," Anuna  warned.

Moreover, the Managing Director Operation Clean and Healthy Anambra State (OCHA) brigade, Celestine Anere said that Governor Soludo was very serious about removing any market leadership aiding or abetting touting by March 2024 adding that markets should also intensify environmental sanitation and desilting of the drainages around their markets or risk being closed down.

The Deputy Director SASA Operations Mr Monday Nwokoye who spoke on behalf of the Commissioner for Homeland security, Hon Chukwudi Anara and Director of Operations Anambra Vigilante Services, Chief Chineye Ihenko a.k.a (Okpompi) said that anti-touting squad has arrested over 64 suspected touts within 24 hours of inauguration and was determined to fish out any single tout and smash their syndicates operating anywhere within the state.

In their respective speeches, the Chairman Bigly Oil and Gas, Chief Ken Nwankwo, Unified Hybrid Enforcement Team(UHBET) AIRS Central Coordinator, Hon Obiora Offor and North Coordinator/SSA to Governor on Security, Hon Chiejina Obieze outlined the only approved IGR to be collected in the markets saying that their staff were always on uniform with identity cards and POS as directed by the Governor. They said that any of their staff who cannot identify himself properly or fights in the public should be treated as a tout.

ASMATA Patron, Chief Jude Nwankwo (Ochendo Umuawulu) the PG Building Materials International Market, Ogidi stressed that the State government was actually against extorting from the less privileged petty traders, barrow pushers, hawkers to further impoverish them and ripping off customers who come to patronize the traders from within and outside the state thereby scaring them away.

He said that state government cannot be against any consensus resolution made by  traders' association for their upkeep, welfare or intra market road maintenance from fellow members urging Market leaders to synergize with SASA to identify touts operating outside the market soroundings  which had been tarnishing the image of most markets.

Meanwhile, several market leaders like PG Relief Market, Chief Ndubuisi Ochiogu, Chairman Nkpor Main market, Mr Paul Okafor, PG Onitsha Main Market, Chief Innocent Ikechukwu Ezeoha, and  Hon. Charles Ikeli, the chairman Amalgamated Tyre Dealers Association, ATDA, Nkpor,  after commending the fight against touting revealed that those touts which engaged in illegal revenue collection oftentimes operate outside the markets where the market leaders lack powers to stop their activities but promised touting activities will soon be eradicated.

"In some cases market leaders are threatened for trying to stop them from enjoying revenue as market host communities," said Okafor.

According to Ochiogu, truly touts are not inside the market but around the market. Before, market leaders had powers to arrest touts outside the market but when you accost some of them at Ogbaru, upper iweka or Nkpor flyover, they will tell you that they have authorization from their town union or traditional ruler to collect revenue. Empower market leaders and those touts will no longer come around to misbehave".

The ASMATA Secretary, Mr. Macaulay Ekwe, Assistant Secretary, Chief Charles Okoye, ASMATA Idemili Zonal Chairman, Chief Emma Obiagwu and ASMATA Onitsha zonal chairman, Chief Eric Uwaoma said that ASMATA had earlier floated a 5-man Make Way taskforce in each market to checkmate activities of touts assuring that they will synergize with SASA which includes providing every useful information that would help eradicate touting which is majorly perpetrated by indigenes with some non-indegenes.

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