Onitsha Sand Dealers protest against Navy over attack, harassment

www.odogwublog.com reports that members of Sand Dealers in Onitsha, Anambra state weekend  staged protest against Nigerian Navy over alleged attack on its members, harassment, intimidation and closure of its business for no just cause in the area.
The  Sand dealers in their numbers with placards with inscription such as "We say no to intimidation, enough is enough, Sand business is legal biz, what has sand dealers done to warrant Navy invasion, attacks, Navy, why closing down our source of income for no just coarse, we lost millions because of Navy excesses, stop at King our members, Sand dealers demand for justice, government should call Navy in their area to order, Navy should leave us alone, we are not at war with you, Navy, you denied us source of daily bread for no reason, Navy, we are not criminals, stop harassing us and Navy authorities should call their officer in Onitsha to order" among others.
The protesters who besieged  their business area at Onitsha Waterways alleged that Naval patrol team stormed their business area and forced everybody to shutdown business over alleged misunderstanding between a tipper driver and one of the Naval officers the previous week, which according them had nothing to do the sand dealers.
The State Vice President of Sand Dealers Association Comrade Ikechukwu Obidimma who spoke to newsmen alleged that one of the members was beaten up by one of the naval  officers who used his rifle's butt to hit him, inflicting injuries on his head and hand while others members were still missing after the attack, calling on state government and Naval authorities to wade into the matter.
He alleged that they lost millions of Naira for the days they forced the dealers to close down whole state government lost millions from internally generated revenue, saying that some of boat that brought sand sunk because the officers refused them from offloading their trips of sand brought from the river which made the boat to sink in the river, bringing hardship to the owner and the entire sand dealers.
"We are not happy in what is happening in our business, from time to time, we are receiving insult, harassment, intimidation, extortion  from so many security agents in the state particularly, the Navy. We are not happy with it and we want to put an end to it. At 
about 2.30pm Naval officers came to this place in their numbers chased all our workers away from this place and chased them into the river, some even jumped into the river. As am speaking with you now I don't know their whereabout, we are still looking for some of them".
"Some of our workers wounded as you can see this young man who was wounded with their rifle which they used to  hit on him while beating him. And not only that they stopped our businesses chased all our customers away, as you can see all the whole of these area, they are all deserted, since Monday, look at our workers 99 percent of these our workers are living on their daily incomes, from the time to close this place, the workers have not been able to take care of their families. We the directors in this business have not been able to know why we are being pursued by this Naval  officers".
"We are opportune to go to them to ask them what happened but we were surprised to hear nonsense they told us. That a tipper driver had a problem with one of their men maybe some time last week and instead of facing the problem they had with the tipper driver, they now turned to us, do have have anything common with the tipper drivers?. They said that a tipper driver hit one of their officers and they are looking for money to take care of him, I don't know what happened but am more concerned about why coming to this place to attack us".
"We are not happy and we are using this medium to call on the Chief of Naval Staff, the Chief of Defence Staff and the Inspector General of Police to look into this matter to call them to order and not only to do that but hasten to take care of the damages they have caused us, we are given them just one week, if they don't it we will take necessary action and see ourselves in court because all these things are being documented, enough is enough, we don't want the issue to repeat itself again, we will not take it lightly with them. It is only in this part of the country you see all this type of harassment and intimidation, you can't see it in the north or elsewhere, only here" Obidimma lamented. 
In swift reaction, a Naval Commander at the Naval Outpost Onitsha NIN Sata Owugha denied all the allegations, saying that the navy and the sand dealers have no problem but only had problem with tipper driver who used his vehicle to hit one of the officers on duty.
"We don't have issue with sand dealer but we have issue with tipper drivers who hit our man on the road. We have resolved and the vehicle released to the tipper driver. If their members jumped into the river and their boat capsized they would have informed us so that we look for them. We did not attack anybody, I'm not aware of anything like that. They should provide evidence that we attacked them and closed their businesses. The protesters may be the wrong sand dealers because I met with some of them where we resolved everything" Owugha stated.
Onitsha Sand Dealers protest against Navy over attack, harassment Onitsha Sand Dealers protest against Navy over attack, harassment Reviewed by Odogwu Emeka Odogwu on Sunday, February 25, 2018 Rating: 5

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