No fewer than 30 traders, including five pregnant women, sustained injuries following an attack by some men who claimed to be road decongestion officials.
The attackers had stormed shops along Sokoto/Haruna Street Onitsha, near the Onitsha main market and allegedly unleashed mayhem on the traders, beating them black and blue in the name of decongesting the streets.
According to an eye witness, the attackers, numbering 150, who arrived the market in three buses, also looted the wares of the traders as they beat them for reportedly using their wares to cause obstruction in the market.
Some of the traders, who resisted the attack were allegedly injured with broken bottles, clubs and machetes.The five pregnant women among the victims told newsmen that the attackers claimed to have come from Anambra State Ministry of Transport to decongest the roads/streets in Onitsha South trading areas, adding, “On arrival, they started confiscating our wares and beating us up for nothing because our wares were not on the roads.
“They took us to their hideout in a plaza at Niger Street, Fegge, and, on getting there, most of our wares were stolen. They introduced themselves to us as road decongestion officials but we later discovered that they were market touts who only disguised themselves to loot our wares”. The traders, who were rescued by the policemen attached to Fegge Police Division and taken to the station with some of their wares, said some of the injured were taken to nearby hospitals for treatment.
According to two of the victims, Chika Nweke and Okechukwu, “they demanded from us, between N4,000 and N10,000 for any goods to be released to the owner”.
It was while they were at the hideout that the police at Fegge, acting on a tip-off, stormed the place and arrested their alleged leader and one other member.The alleged leader was said to have told the police that miscreants infiltrated the operation which resulted in the looting and beating of the traders, adding that he had authorization to decongest roads in the area from the state Ministry of Transport.