NCP tackles Obiano-led APGA govt over setting up of task force on prohibition of adulterated products in Anambra markets

June 3, 2021
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. says its a fire brigade approach targeted at extorting traders

By CHUKS EKE

Authorities of Anambra State Chapter of the National Conscience Party, NCP, one of the existing political parties in the country have described the recent setting up of a 48-member task force on the prohibition of adulterated goods and products in Anambra state markets, barely a year to the expiration of Obiano’s eight-year tenure in office as a fire brigade approach targeted at extorting the traders, .

NCP contended that in setting up such a task force at its last lap, the Obiano administration, no doubt has demonstrated that it has an ulterior motive and at the same time, anti-traders phenomenon since the task force would go all out to extort and victimize the traders in the name of searching for adulterated goods and products in the markets and warehouses.

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The state government had through the office of the Commissioner for Trade and Commerce, Hon. Uchenna Okafor, rolled out the 48-member task force headed by Charles Mokwe with a charge to combat the influx of substandard goods and counterfeit drugs in all the markets in the state.

In a letter signed by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Trade and Commerce, Samuel Chinedu Ike Esq on behalf of the the Commissioner, Okafor, government said the setting up of the task force which took effect from May 1, this year, was in pursuance of Anambra state House of Assembly Resolution No. 1 of 2020 which mandated the Governor to direct the Commissioner to set up the task force.

The letter noted that the terms of reference of task force included collaborating with appropriate authorities to fish out the producers and sellers of substandard goods and products within the state and hand them over for prosecution, recommend to the authorities the search and of all premises they believe or suspect that adulterated and substandard goods are produced packed or sold.

But in a press statement issued shortly after rising from their state executive meeting held in Awka, yesterday, NCP noted with dismay what it termed the fire brigade approach now being applied by APGA out-going government to impoverished Ndi Anambra that is dominated with traders.

According to the statement, jointly signed by the state Chairman of the party, Comrade Sir Peter Okala and the state Secretary, Chief Raymond Anyaeji, “the last time we checked, we discovered that the Hon Commissioner of Trade and Commerce has toed the dishonorable path of his predecessors in Obiano administration who had demonstrated the highest level of desperation in making lives unbearable for the teeming traders across Anambra State”.

“Another boiling issue here is that billions of naira collected by this government as Stallge fees from traders annually in Anambra State Markets in the past six years were not receipted and traders are now living in fear of the in-coming administration in less than a year’s time because if by tomorrow a new government from another party outside APGA emerges victorious from the November 6 governorship election in the state and decides to do revalidation of all the shops in the markets, those who could not produce receipt of the payment of their stallage fees might be dispossessed of the ownership of their hard earned shops”.

“It is obvious that some past and present Commissioners have connived with heartless, so-called market leaders to perpetrate this dastardly act against the innocent and law-abiding traders whose only source of livelihood is to open their shop on daily basis”.

“These traders operated registered Associations for themselves for social interaction and welfare of their members and customers but the out-going Obiano government would not let them be, they bastardized the markets with different unqualified and dishonorable Commissioners who force headship on the traders and use government instruments to manipulate elections and have the gullible individuals parading in the markets as traders to grab leadership positions against the popular wish of traders thereby having 70 percent of their market leaders from those who had no stake in the market hence they became revenue collectors instead of the market leaders”.

This impunity has persisted because the government institutions were directed to provide their instruments to assist the so called market leaders who go home with 20%of their daily collection to have their families and thugs smile to the bank while the innocent traders pay through their nose all these years, in the same manner these so called market leaders introduce all kinds of tickets in market to collect revenue by the same force from the unsuspecting traders and costumers who are helpless because the supposedly office of the Commissioner for Trade and Commerce that should address the urgly situation is the major beneficiary of the revenue”.

“Nevertheless, over 200 markets in Anambra State today are led by the caretaker Committee appointed by the office of the Honorable Commissioner of Trade and Commerce who pay at least N3 to N5 million to get appointed to the detriment of the traders in Anambra State”.

“The list of clandestine activities of these supposedly appointed officers of the law against the state is endless, only heartless and hungry government appointees whose records are everywhere as an undesirable element would have had the heart to continue the impunity to its highest degree because their days are numbered”.

“They have shops or Plaza projects in almost every lucrative corner of the market in Anambra State not minding drainage channel or emergency exit and having saturated nearly 70 percent of the the market space with shops and plazas and having in mind and eyeing one elective position or the other with their own cut of loot from Stallge fees which is not remitted to government coffers, they produced a document generated from his office known as the Reconstituted Committee of Task force on the Prohibition of Adulterated Goods And Products In Anambra State with reference Mte/Mkt /02/150 dated 1st May 2021”.

“The 48-member committee whose credentials are yet unknown to the public have been assigned to take over the duties of Federal Agencies like NAFDAC, the Nigerian Customs Service and Standard Organization of Nigeria, SON which have the backing of the law to determine the veracity of adulteration and the book of law to verify and identify those goods that are prohibited”.

The task force members were just told to work with relevant agencies at their own discretion to return N100 million to the government ministry monthly. Their major targets are warehouses of reputable importers of drugs, building materials, hard wares, soft wares etc to rough-handle them and extort huge amounts of money ranging from N10 to N50 million or threat of having their goods destroyed or set ablaze”.

“NCP hereby invite the government of Anambra State to call the Hon Commissioner of Trade and Commerce to order as the officer of the law in trade and Commerce whose duty it is to not only apply the law but always ensure that the law is applied to the latter. That it will take long before our great party would approach the court of law to seek redress for all the concerned traders in Anambra State towards bringing the commissioner to pay for his seeds in office”.

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