By Nwabueze Okonkwo
ONITSHA – Traders under the aegis of South-East Amalgamated Markets Traders Association, SEAMATA yesterday stated that they are in total support of the pro-Biafra groups who are
agitating for the restoration or actualization of Biafra republic, adding that that they are condemning in totality the invasion of markets by the agitators.
They said contrary to media reports that they are against Biafra agitation, the traders, as core Igbo men and women are in support of the efforts to restore Biafra through non-violence and not through violence agitation as obtained in the recent protests embarked upon by the agitators during which they forcefully entered into the markets and harassed the traders for opening their shops
President-General of SEAMATA Chief Okwudili Ezenwankwo in a press statement he jointly signed with the Secretary-General, Mr. Temple Udeh, noted that in as much as the traders support the movement for Biafran state, they are in total condemnation of a situation where the pro-Biafra agitators/protesters allowed themselves to be infiltrated by some miscreants who cashed in on the protest to loot and do all sorts of things in the markets.
SEAMATA further stated that the invasion of the markets by Biafra supporters in the name of protest which led to vandalization and destruction of shops, vehicles and other valuables belonging to their fellow Igbos was not only condemnable but unacceptable, adding, “to set the record straight and for the purposes of clarity, the traders are not challenging the constitutional right of peaceful assembly of any one.
We only condemned the attitude of the protesters (or miscreants that infiltrated them) that went into markets, chased the traders out and closed the entrances to the market”.
“It was the maturity of the leadership that directed the security men in these markets not to challenge them, that forestalled casualties. The protest was not peaceful as it recorded casualities. If the Pro-Biafra protesters held their protest in a field or any stadium, there wouldn’t have been any issue to warrant all these misrepresentation of intentions”, they stated.
They recalled that when it protested the alleged relocation of Boko Haram detainees to Anambra state, the protesters went on without harassing or disturbing anybody going about his of her businesses, adding that when the entire South-East traders protested, mother protest went on in Ekwulobia stadium and no individual was molested, unlike the pro-Biafra protesters.
“That we all are Igbos both traders and protesters are not in contention, that the problem of one Igbo man shall attract the sympathy of the other is stressing the obvious. But it is against natural justice and fairness to create a more difficult problem as a solution to an existing one.
“If the protests were in an open field or stadium, those that put the entire Igbo in this mess couldn’t have had the opportunity.
The protesters could even decide to sleep in the venue for days as are witnessed in other parts of the countries without disturbance.
The statement of the traders is for the protesters to leave the market. The traders never disowned anybody or group as reported in some quarters”, SEAMATA stated.