By Patrick Obia
Suspected agents believed to hail from Calabar South Local Government Council on Monday 2 January 2023 at the popular Watt Market Shopping Center Complex harassed petty traders and their Vice Chairman – Chinedu Igwe beaten into a coma.
According to pictures and videos by Effio-Ita Nyok, the publisher of NegroidHaven, the suspects acting at the instance of Calabar South Council Authority stormed the complex in their numbers, “attacking, harassing, intimidating” as well as scattering wares of the petty traders.
The Calabar South Council Authority had last year issued a circular disclosing that it will evacuate the traders from the facility come 31 December 2022.
According to the traders, their rents were yet to expire when thugs invaded the shopping center in the early hours.
One of the traders told NegroidHaven this is happening even when “the matter is in court.”
Recall that in July 2022, the Chairman of Calabar South Local Government Area, Mrs. Esther Bassey debunked claims of high taxation from her council, accusing traders of Anambra origin at the popular Watt market of fomenting trouble.
Mrs. Bassey made the claim in an amateur video that was shared multiple times on social media, where she also denied that the council is collecting taxes or levies from the traders.
“We have really enjoyed peace since I came, and they are enjoying it, that is why they want to cause problems in Calabar. These people have been our problem, and they are really our problem. I have seen they have been the cause of the unrest we have in Calabar; these Anambra people,” Mrs. Bassey can be heard saying on the video.
She continued: “They have brought their problem because they said they are from Anambra, and then you are coming to cause problems in somebody’s State. Tomorrow when the problem starts, we, the owners of the land, will have nowhere to run to; you have where to run to. My God will judge you if you are giving yourself the right judgment,” she ended.
CrossRiverWatch gathered that the Council wants to eject those protesting high taxation and issue the space to new people willing to comply.
This is coming when Governor Ben Ayade made executive pronouncements banning all forms of illegal taxation and exempting petty traders from paying tax.
At the time of filling this report, the phone line to the spokesperson for Calabar South Local Government Council, Ruth Ekeng is switched off.