By Ochuko Akuopha
OLEH—THE people of Oleh community, Delta State, have shut down the main market in the area, following its forceful takeover by authorities of Isoko South Local Government Area of the state.
Hundreds of traders who protested against the takeover of the market, decried the alleged imposition of N2000 and N3000 yearly payment for shops on indigenes and non-indigenes respectively, in addition to a daily levy of N50 per shop.
President General of Oleh community, Mr. James Okpighe, during the protest, said: “The forceful takeover of the Oleh community market by authorities of Isoko South council is a breach of the Nigerian Constitution under the 4th Schedule and by extension a violation of the Delta State Laws of 2013 which forbid the takeover of any market not built with government funds.
“This market was built with our community’s fund when the council failed to give us a market. To decree its takeover like in the days of military without any compensation to the community is an infraction on the Nigeria Constitution.
“This protest will continue every Oleh market day until this invasion and rape of our commonwealth by authorities of Isoko South council is addressed by the Delta State Government.”
On her part, women leader, Mrs. Helen Elli, alleged that “Since the establishment of this market, Oleh community has been responsible for its maintenance. We have been paying our normal levies to the community which is being used to maintain the market. Last two weeks, the authorities of the council forcefully took over the market from the community, imposing different levies on us which we are against.”
Reacting to the protest, the council Chairman, Sir Ithiako Ikpokpo, said: “All markets belong to government and not communities or individuals,” explaining that the community was collecting market levy and making payments to the council until about 10 years ago, when they stopped paying.”
“Because they stopped paying, we decided to sit down with the members of the Oleh Community Development Union and other leaders within the community to see how we can generate revenue from the market and we gave it to a consultant, who will generate revenue from the market while the council will in turn develop the market with the revenue generated,” he added.