BY NWABUEZE OKONKWO
ONITSHA – No fewer than five people sustained various degrees of injuries Thursday at the Onitsha Bridge Head medicine dealers market when violence erupted erupted during the meeting of line Chairmen and Secretaries of the Onitsha Patent and Proprietary Medicine Dealers Union, OPPMDU, as a result of the arrival of some suspected thugs and disruption of the meeting.
Trouble was said to have started when the chairmen and secretaries of the various lines in the market gathered at the market evangelism office of the union to discuss the way forward over the botched election of officers in the market since last year amidst threat of closure of the market by the federal government over the policy of non sale of drugs in the open market.
Sources said no sooner was the meeting declared open than some thugs numbering about 40 suspected to be working for the incumbent caretaker committee chairman of the market invaded the meeting venue with canes and other dangerous weapons and allegedly unleashed mayhem on the line chairmen and their secretaries.
The thugs allegedly ordered the meeting closed with immediate effect, saying that the group did not get permission to convene the meeting before descending on the elected chairmen and secretaries and at once, they started beating and brutalizing everybody while smashing phones and chairs.
The Coordinating Chairman of the forum and Chairman of Tablet line in the market, Uchenna Ubah who received serious bruises from the fracas also had his eye glasses broken by the thugs as many ran for safety.
The secretary of Unity line and member of the Civil Liberties Organisation in Anambra State, Comrade Ugochukwu Oforma while condemning the act described the action of the thugs as barbaric. The victims also accused the Caretaker Committee Chairman of the market, Ugochukwu Nwosu of trying to perpetuate himself into office despite the fact that his three month tenure expired since October, 2013.
They also called on Gov. Willie Obiano through the Ministry of Commerce and Industry to weed the market of thugs and also conduct a democratic election in the market as the only solution out of the looming crisis in market.
When contacted for comments, the Caretaker Committee Chairman, Ugochukwu Nwosu feigned ignorance of the incident and later said he would talk at the appropriate time. As at the time of filing this report, the matter has been reported at Fegge Police Station while the DPO, Rabiu Garba who confirmed the incident, told newsmen that he had just invited both parties for interrogations and or dialogue..