The President General of Anambra State Amalgamated Traders Association (ASMATA), Chief Ikechukwu Ekwegbalu on Wednesday said the association has banned the conduct of daily and weekly prayers across all markets in the state.
Making the disclosure while addressing market union chairmen and secretaries in Onitsha, Ekwegbalu said the prayer section was proscribed following alleged extortion and conversion of the spiritual exercise to a political jamboree.
He announced that the prayers would henceforth be held once a month and urged market leaders to meet with the traders and unanimously agree on a suitable date so as to ensure that the slated time of 7:00-10:00am is strictly adhered to.
Ekwegbalu said, “This move became very necessary because we have discovered that some overzealous ones abuse this practice by extorting market men and women regularly of their hard-earned resources.
“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 and ensure to observe the monthly prayers within a stipulated time of between 7am to 10am.”
He flayed at the attitude of some traders who involving the police or Ministry of Trade and Commerce when issues that should be resolved within the market leadership arose.
The ASMATA boss adviced the traders to seek redress through the appropriate processes within the ambits of the constitution when there were disagreements.
He frowned at the level of revenue racketeering and called on leaders of various market union to remit revenues generated from their respective markets into the state government coffers.
While urging traders vying for elective positions not to engage in any activity capable of threatening the credibility of the forth coming union election. Ekwegbalu adviced them to follow due processes in the course of their campaign in accordance with the constitution of the market.
He added, “We are looking forward to a peaceful, credible and a transparent election this time around.”
In his speech, the Commissioner for Trade, Commerce, Markets and Wealth Creation, Mr Christian Madubuko implored the market leaders to make effort towards blocking all revenue leakages across the markets.
He insisted that the diversion of revenues is an attempt at stalling the progress of the state saying, “There will not be enough funds for the government to make available the needed developmental projects if individuals continue to milk the revenues.
“Market leaders should ensure traders pay their stallage fees and other revenues promptly. I call on those attempting to divert same to desist forthwith or be fished out and prosecuted accordingly.”
He advised crooked market market leaders and touts to keep away from the forthcoming election or be ready to face the music.