Serious trouble is brewing at the Onitsha Green Seed Market in Anambra State, as the patron of the market, Chief Emmanuel Ndubuisi, accuses the caretaker chairman of the market association, Mr Chijiike Okpala, and his predecessor, Hon Charles Ikegwuonu, of embezzling several millions of naira belonging to the association.
In return, the duo of Chijiike Okpala and Charles Ikegwuonu claim that the patron of the market stands suspended as patron of the market over alleged sabotage.
Following the purported suspension of Chief Ndubuisi, Mr Christopher Chukwuka has subsequently been appointed as his replacement.
The market association also claimed that they suspended former vice chairman of the market association, Mr Ogechukwu Nnajiofor. Mr Nnajiofor served as vice-chairman under the administration of Hon Charles Ikegwuonu, immediate past caretaker committee chairman of the market.
The duo of Ndubuisi and Nnajiofor said that Chijioke Okpala was the financial secretary of the market association when Charles Ikegwuonu was chairman. They said that the two joined hands, and used their offices to embezzle the said money.
They claimed that money that accrued to the association between January, 2022 and May, 2022 was N13, 263,332. According to them, the two did not only mismanage the money, but went ahead to leave a deficit of N6,200,000, which according to them, the two officers could not account for.
Ndubuisi and Nnajiofor also described their purported suspension and subsequent appointment of Mr l Chukwuka as a ‘huge drama’.
They said it was laughable, saying that the caretaker executive has no powers to remove or appoint.
The two, who spoke to newsmen in Onitsha, recently, said that the convention where their suspension was announced was pre-arranged as their supporters were not allowed to contribute to the debate.
They alleged that the market executive also used security operatives like soldiers, police and vigilante to intimidate their supporters; as they were prevented from contributing to the debate when the issue of their suspension was raised.
While insisting that a caretaker administration has no powers to suspend or remove any officer from the market association, Chief Ndubuisi reiterated that the market constitution has no provision for caretaker administration, and as such, any major decision from the caretaker executive was not binding on the association.
The embattled chief patron said that what they were fighting for was transparency in leadership of the market.
He maintained that funds belonging to the association were yet to be accounted for as the statement of account rendered by the former chairman, Hon Ikegwuonu, during his stewardship and subsequent removal by the Anambra State government on 28th April, 2022, did not reflect the realities on ground.
He accused Ikegwuonu of running a one-man administration, and did not carry other members of the executive along.
He revealed that Ikegwuonu was no longer the market chairman as at 28th April, 2022, but joined hands with the incumbent executive on certain issues because the former chairman played a role in bringing the present chairman, Mr Chijioke Okpala, and members of his executive to office.
When our reporter contacted Hon Ikegwuonu and the present chairman of the Grain Seeds Market, Mr.l Okpala, they dismissed the allegations. They accused Chief Ndubuisi of wanting to cause crisis in the market.