As a back drop of the directive from Anambra State Government suspending ticketing and collection of tolls, dues or levies in the state till further notice, residents and visitors of the commercial city of Onitsha have been told to stop making payments to touts and hoodlums, who still parade tickets to extort money from the public as tolls, dues or levies in markets, roads and streets all over the city.
The spiritual leader of the Igbo nation, Chief Rommy Ezeonwuka (Ogilisi Igbo), who spoke to journalists on Sunday, told members of the public to stop making payments to those who still parade all manners of tickets in the market, hence, the suspension of ticketing by state government until the suspension is lifted.
Chief Ezeonwuka, who is a member of the Board of Trustees, BoT, of All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA, and SA to Governor Obiano on Security and Vigilante Service, appealed to commercial drivers and visiting traders from across Nigeria and West African countries, who usually come to Onitsha to buy goods, to stop making payments to touts and hoodlums until the state government comes up with statement on what to pay or what not to pay for.
He accused market leaders and some highly placed persons in the state of using such touts to defraud people.
“The menace of ticketing and extortions in the commercial city of Onitsha is part of many devices of making money by market leaders and some highly placed persons, who form themselves as cabals in the state; those who use the daily returns from their agents to enrich their businesses, build hotels, plazas, housing estates and petrol stations to the detriment of the state government, who needs such money to develop the state,” he said.
Ogilisi Igbo observed with dismay that extortion at various points in Onitsha through ticketing and collection of tolls, dues or levies are scaring visiting traders away from Onitsha, adding that traders from across Nigeria and neighboring counties like Niger Republic, Benin Republic, Cameroon, Ivory Coast and Chad are no longer comfortable with what they encounter in Onitsha with touts and hoodlums, who collect money from them at different points in the city.
He observed that the rate at which touts and hoodlums rake money from drivers and traders in Onitsha is unbelievable adding, “if you are coming out of the market with your load, you pay them; if you bring goods to the motor park, you will pay them; if you are driving out from the motor park, you pay them; and they also station themselves at strategic places at Bida Road, Iweka Road, Owerri Road, Bridge Head, Old Market Road and New Market Road, among other places at Obosi and Nkpor, where they collect money from drivers and the owners of the goods.”
Ezeonwuka noted that “one Mrs Gloria from Niger Republic, who came to buy goods at Onitsha Main Market, paid over N8,000 to two different sets of touts and hoodlums at two different points at Bida Road and Owerri Road, in addition to the ones they collected from her while she was coming out from the market.”
He cautioned market leaders in Onitsha and across Anambra as well as the cabals against ganging up to fight the efforts of the state government to sanitize the state and get it rid of activities of illegal revenue agents.
He also advised petty traders, who dwell on the side of the roads and major streets across the commercial city to cooperate with state government on its effort to decongest Onitsha, by relocating immediately inside the markets, adding that failure of traders to cooperate with government would attract another phase of demolition of road side structures across the city.