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Apprehension in Anambra market as kidnappers strike 


CITIZENS COMPASSThe kidnap and continuous disappearance of the Chairman of Mgbuka Amazu Market, Onitsha, in Anambra State, Chief Enibe Francis, has elicited apprehension in the area. 

Also, traders in the area have lamented the Monday sit-at-home exercise across major cities in the State.

The Mgbuka Amazu Market is an old motor spare parts market, situated along the ever busy Onitsha-Owerri Road.

Francis, who was reportedly kidnapped in September and whose disappearance is suspected to be related to Monday sit-at-home in the state has yet to be released till date, despite the payment of N5 million ransom to the alleged kidnappers, according to family sources. 

He was reportedly whisked away by some yet-to-be-identified assailants shortly after he had opened the market for the Monday morning prayers and clean-up exercise as directed by the market associations in the state.

The armed hoodlums, who stormed the market, shot into the air sporadically, beat him to a pulp before bundling him into their waiting vehicle and drove to an unknown destination. His whereabouts has since then remained unknown till date.

Findings by South-East PUNCH showed that the kidnap of the market leader has continued to fuel the Monday sit-at-home in the state, which was gradually easing off, before the kidnap incident happened.

Our correspondent, who went round major cities of Onitsha, Nnewi, Nkpor, Obosi, Ekwulobia and some parts of Awka, on Monday, observed that markets, schools, petrol stations, banks and offices remained shut, even as some traders gathered and were discussing matters of various interest around the markets vicinities.

Reacting to the Monday sit-at-home, many traders and residents, in separate interviews, lamented that the kidnap of the market chairman, has created panic and also contributed in fuelling the Monday sit-at-home, which they said was gradually subsiding before the chairman was kidnapped.

An auto spare parts dealer at Nkpor Motor Parts, near Onitsha, Chief Silas Agorom, said, “Normal activities were gradually returning to the markets until the kidnap of the market leader in September, whose whereabouts have remained unknown till date. 

“As a way of countering the Monday sit-at-home exercise, which had negatively impacted on our business, the state governor, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, had directed market leaders to start opening the markets on Mondays by observing prayer sessions and cleaning up of the market environment and drainages.

“Following the directive, market executives in the state, led by the President of Anambra State  Markets Amalgamated Traders Association, ASMATA, Chief Humphrey Anuna, moved round the markets across the state every Monday to monitor and ensure that traders comply with the directive of opening every Monday.

“The market executives also held a meeting with the drivers’ association in the state with a view to ensuring that they start coming out on Mondays to convey people to their various places of business. Things were going on smoothly as activities were returning to normal.

“The Monday morning exercise had seen normalcy returning, as commercial and economic activities were gradually picking up in the state, until the incident, which has now stalled the progress recorded, thereby paralysing activities in the state occurred.

“As things stand now, every trader is afraid of coming near the markets on Mondays so as not to risk his life. More worrisome is the fact that security operatives are not helping matters for us. If not for the kidnap, I am sure major markets would have been opening by now and the sit-at-home would have been a thing of the past.”

A visit to the Mgbuka-Amazu Market on Tuesday, where the market leader was kidnapped, showed a heavy apprehension by the traders, who expressed worry that security operatives have failed to rescue the market leader since September that he was kidnapped. 

Some of them wondered how the hoodlums were able to whisk the market leader away without any resistance despite the presence of two security checkpoints near the market.

A resident and trader at the Mgbuka market, who identified himself as Maxwell Chinedu, said, “We had to start shutting the market since the incident happened for fear of more attacks. Since the market leader was taken away, we have not heard from him and this has created panic in the area.

The armed hoodlums invaded his shop immediately after he took the roll call of those who participated in the Monday morning prayers and clean up exercise, they fired several gun shots before bundling him into their vehicle.

“More worrisome is the fact that there are two security checkpoints along the road near the market and the road was in a very deplorable condition due to heavy rains, which made driving very slow. There is one security checkpoint at Enamel and another at Idemili roundabout, yet the hoodlums succeeded in kidnapping the man. 

Another trader, Uche Okey, said, “What happened still jolted everybody and the fact that he has not been seen is another fear we are dealing with and that is why markets have remained shut on Mondays to avoid a recurrence as we watch developments.”

When contacted on the latest development, an aide of the chairman, Anambra State Markets Amalgamated Traders Association, who craved anonymity, said, “To the best of my knowledge, the market leader has not been released by his captors, even though the sum of N5 million has been paid as ransom. 




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