By Nwabueze Okonkwo
Palpable tension arose in the commercial city of Onitsha, Anambra state, as members of Sand Dealers Association, Anambra state chapter, staged a peaceful protest against officers and men of the Nigerian Navy, Onitsha Naval base, for what they termed a transferred aggression against their members at the River Niger Creek, Onitsha, Anambra state.
The demonstrators numbering over 50, gathered at their Ukwu Akpu operational base at Harbour Industrial Layout, along the River Niger Creek, Onitsha and carried placards with such inscriptions as “Navy, we are not criminals, stop harassing us”, “we pay our royalties to the federal government”, “Stop attacking our members”.
Addressing the demonstrators, State Vice Chairman of the association, Comrade Ikechukwu Obidimma, alleged that men of the Navy from the Onitsha Naval base on Tuesday morning, invaded the River Niger Creeks where they dredged sands for sale and unleashed mayhem against their members. Flanked by Chief Gilbert Udemadu, chairman of Ukwu Akpu unit; Uzonna Ndukuba, one of their injured members, Chief Boniface Ezenwaka, Chairman of Ose Ogbe Ijaw unit, Desmond Onyekpu, who claimed his dredging boat was sunk during the incidence, among other executive members, Obidimma stated that the Naval men on arrival, siad they were trailing one of the tipper drivers who knocked down a Naval personnel.
He noted that in the process of chasing their members out of the creeks, the Naval men injured some of them with gun butts, chased about 10 others into the River Niger and sunk one of their double-engine boats carrying about 10 trips of sand, adding that about 200 tippers were taken to the Naval Base and seized.
He contended that the naval men has no justification to unleash such a volume of terrors on their members and at the same, grinding their dredging businesses to a halt, just because a tipper driver knocked down a Naval personnel who mounted a road block and was extorting money from tipper drivers plying the roads, adding: “we see it as a transferred aggression”.