Anambra : Protesting traders accuse SON of demanding N8m extortion from them

Traders at building materials market, Ogidi, Ogbunike, Idemili and Oyi Local Government Areas, Anambra State, have protested alleged extortion and threat to seal their shops by personnel of Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON).

Some of the traders carried placards with the inscriptions; “SON enough is enough, say no to illegal extortion by SON; SON stop intimidating us; SON stop demanding money from us; SON go to wharf not markets”, among others.

Addressing newsmen who stormed the scene, the spokesperson of the traders and Chairman of Marvelous Line, Mr Kenneth Ofoegbunam said that SON came into their markets that morning to impound their goods and seal some shops claiming that the traders refused to pay N8 million demanded from them.

“They first came about three weeks ago and sealed four shops out of 30 shops. They told us that they would seal or we pay N8 million for offence they didn’t disclose to us. They said just pay N8 million and you are set free from embarrassment, and we said no.

“Then after some days they came again with Civil Defence Corps personnel and we chased them away. Today they reinforced, came with five Hilux load of policemen, Civil Defence Corps, and other security men and made straight to the shops they sealed previously to impound the goods therein but we resisted them.

“They started shooting guns into the air to scare us and in the process made away with some goods estimated to worth millions of nàira. As I talk to you now the owners of the impounded goods have urged Governor Charles Soludo to come to their rescue, saying that the SON personnel should be confined only at the wharf and country boundaries and not markets,” he said.

Also reacting, the secretary of Success Line in the market, Mr Tochukwu Uduezue, lamented that SON personnel focused on markets instead of wharf, adding that their interest was to extort them.

“Governor Soludo should please come to our rescue because they are out to extort us. How can we pay N8 million for us to be free from them. Where do we get the money from and what is our offence. The wharf and boundaries are there for them to operate in and not the markets.

“We are mere traders and not importers and deal in genuine business with documents to back up our transactions. What they are doing is illegal and we will not relent in resisting the payment of N8 million extortion,” he insisted.

Also a widow who simply identified herself as Mrs Okeke lamented that most women in the market have their goods impounded by SON for no just cause, saying that until government comes to the rescue of the traders, the SON personnel have seen the market as an oil well.

As at the time of filing this report most shops were under lock and key over fear of return of the officials for seizure of goods and seal of more shops.

Contacted, a SON official in Anambra State who would not like her name to be mentioned said it was not within her jurisdiction to speak on the issue. “Call our head office. It is not within my jurisdiction. It’s an enforcement job. So, I wouldn’t know about that, “the SON official said.

Picture of some of the protesters.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *