In the bustling markets of Akwa Ibom State, a pressing issue has arisen that threatens the livelihoods and rights of local traders. Concerned stakeholders, united under the banner of the COMMPART Foundation for Justice and Peace-building, have sounded an alarm, urging Governor Umo Eno to intervene and address the alleged extortion practices perpetrated by Local Government (LG) agents and individuals collaborating to force traders into joining unions against their will.
Unveiling the Extortion Scheme
Recent investigations conducted by the COMMPART Foundation have revealed troubling trends within the markets of Akwa Ibom State. In particular, they have exposed the activities of a select few collaborators among Okra sellers in Abak Market who have initiated a move to establish an emergent union aimed at regulating the sale of this commodity. Similarly, in the bustling Urua Afor market in Ikot Ekpene, another group seeks to impose a similar union structure upon all goat meat sellers.
The Voice of Concerned Stakeholders
Led by Saviour Akpan, the Executive Director of COMMPART Foundation for Justice and Peace-building, this group of concerned stakeholders is driven by growing social security concerns. They have felt compelled to draw the Governor’s attention to a deeply troubling pattern of oppressive trading practices that are actively undermining the rights of individuals to engage in lawful economic activities within these markets.
The Predatory Motives
At the heart of this issue lies the exploitative economic motives behind these forced unions. Many Okra sellers in Abak Market have staunchly declined invitations to join these unions, recognizing the potential harm they pose. What’s particularly concerning is that those advocating for these unions seem to enjoy the support of the local government, leaving many questions unanswered.
Abak Local Government’s Role
Rather than patiently awaiting the resolution of the matter through due process, the Abak Local Government has instead empowered the group advocating for the establishment of these unions. They have tasked this group with monitoring Okra sellers in Abak Market, tracking the volume of their sales, and the days on which they operate. Such actions represent a direct affront to peace, economic justice, and the infringement of individual rights to association or disassociation.
A Call for Immediate Action
In response to these developments, the concerned stakeholders earnestly call upon Governor Eno to intervene. They further implore the chairpersons of Abak and Ikot Ekpene Local Governments to exercise their authority and reign in the agents of their councils operating within the markets. These agents and vested interests must be reminded of their obligation not to stifle free trade, especially considering the severe hardships this situation imposes on the already struggling traders. This issue takes on even greater urgency in the context of the challenging economic conditions facing our society today.
The Threat of Tyranny
The COMMPART Foundation is acutely aware of a sinister plot by the proponents of these oppressive unions. They intend to employ both the police and street-level enforcers to intimidate targeted traders, many of whom are vulnerable women. In light of this, they call upon the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) of Abak and the Commissioner of Police, Akwa Ibom State Command, to counsel their officers and personnel against providing any form of cover or support for such tyrannical practices.
The issue of extortion and the forced imposition of unions within the markets of Akwa Ibom State is a pressing concern that cannot be ignored. It is imperative that Governor Umo Eno, in collaboration with local government authorities, takes immediate and decisive action to protect the rights and livelihoods of the state’s traders. The COMMPART Foundation for Justice and Peace-building stands firm in its commitment to seeing this matter resolved in a just and equitable manner.
In conclusion, the situation calls for swift and effective intervention to ensure that the markets of Akwa Ibom State remain bastions of economic opportunity, rather than venues for exploitation and oppression.