By Vincent Ujumadu
Awka- TRADERS under the auspices of Anambra State Amalgamated Traders Association (ASMATA) has banned daily and weekly prayers in all markets in the state, alleging that some so-called pastors had converted the prayer sessions as an avenue for extortion.
President General of ASMATA, Chief Ikechukwu Ekwegbalu, who announced the ban while addressing chairmen and secretaries of various market unions yesterday said that henceforth, the prayers would be conducted only once a month.
According to him, the spiritual exercise was turning to a political jamboree, adding that the leadership of ASMATA would no longer allow anybody to exploit the traders in the name of prayers.
He said: “This ban became very necessary because we have discovered that some overzealous persons abuse this practice by extorting market men and women regularly of their hard-earned resources.
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“Some have turned the prayers into a somewhat political jamboree and this is not healthy for the system. All market leaders are expected to meet with the traders and unanimously agree on a suitable date to observe the monthly prayers within a stipulated time between 7am and 10am.”
Ekwegbalu also frowned at the attitude of involving the police or officials of the Ministry of Trade and Commerce when issues that should be resolved by the market leadership arose, advising traders to seek redress through the appropriate processes within the ambits of the constitution whenever there were disagreements.
He also condemned what he described as revenue racketeering going on in the various markets and urged leaders of the market unions to dully remit revenues generated from their respective markets into the state government coffers through the appropriate means.
The state Commissioner for Trade, Commerce, Markets and Wealth Creation, Dr. Christian Madubuko, who also addressed the traders urged the market leaders to block all revenue leakages across the markets and warned that any attempt to divert revenues from the markets amounted to stalling the progress of the state.
He charged the traders to pay their revenues promptly, warning those attempting to divert same to desist forthwith or be fished out and prosecuted accordingly.
He observed that if all the revenues accruing to the government were paid into the appropriate places, the state government would not lack funds for the execution of development projects across the state.
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