‘They collected N40,000 for each store, then chased us out with thugs’

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By Godwin Oghre

…Sapele Main Market women invade LG hqtrs

SAPELE—Some market women from Sapele Main Market, yesterday, stormed the local government headquarters, bearing placards with various messages, protesting what they described as extortion by the council.

It was gathered that the council’s Head of Personal Management, Mr. Perkins Umukoro, on sighting the protesting women approaching the headquarters along Yoruba Road, escaped for fear of being lynched by the women.

The Sapele Main Market traders at the local government secretariat, yesterday.

Leaders of the protesting market women said the council compelled them to pay a commencement fee of N40,000 each to it, before they can resume business in the newly-constructed 1,532 units of stores in the market.

They said after they had paid, the local government officials, accompanied by thugs, drove them away from the market, saying they can neither occupy the road nor the stores.

They sent thugs after us—Leader

One of their leaders, Mrs. Aminoma McGrey, said: “The council has forbidden us from trading on the road side. They also asked us to pay N40,000 each as commencement fee before assigning the stores to us, and we paid.

“Why will they then send thugs after us? Why will they force us out of the stores? If that is the case, let them refund our money. We are ready to go back to where we were.

“We are shocked that after we had paid N40,000 each to the council, it turned around and directed one Bobo and his gang to eject us from the stores today (yesterday).”

Some of their placards read “We no go gree o we no go gree” (we won’t accept), “We want our money back,” “You cannot collect N40,000 from each of us and chase us out,” “Restore our stores to us or there will be trouble,” among others, while some were brandishing tree branches.

Efforts to reach the Head of Personal Management of the council at press time were not successful, but a revenue officer in the council, Mr. Christmas Godwin, who assisted in restoring peace, said “the situation is under control.”

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