Presentation of the Report of the Ad-Hoc Committee on the “Indiscriminate Erection of Stalls at Ekeoha Shopping Center, Aba, A Genocide Waiting to Happen”
In Presenting the Report, the Chairman of the Committee and Member representing Ugwunagbo State Constituency, Hon. Munachin Alozie, referred back to the Committee’s assignment.
Following a Petition addressed to the Abia State House of Assembly through the Office of the Speaker, the House set up an Ad-Hoc Committee on the 26th of August, 2020 to investigate the matter.
The Report of the committee is as follows:
To properly carry out its assignment, the committee notified both the petitioners and respondents of the date and venue of its Sitting being the 31st of August, 2020, at the Abia State House of Assembly Committee Room.
At the first Sitting, parties were given opportunity to present their cases. The Petitioners presented their case through their lawyer while the Respondents namely: Hon. Commissioner for Trade and Investment, Hon Cosmos Ndukwe and the Chairman of Ekeoha Shopping Center Traders Association, Mr Friday Dimiri requested to be granted an adjournment to enable them reply to the petition by their counsel which was granted.
However, the Committee ordered the Commissioner for Trade and Investment, Hon. Cosmos Ndukwe to submit to the committee copies of all approvals for construction of stalls in the said market granted during his tenure as Commissioner for Trade and Investment.
At its second Sitting being the 3rd of September, 2020, the said Commissioner for Trade and Investment did not appear but sent his lawyer, Bertram Faitu Esq while the Chairman of Ekeoha Traders Association, Mr Friday Dimiri, appeared with his Lawyer.
It is Important to note that on the said second Sitting, Cosmos Ndukwe did not obey the earlier order of the Committee ordering him to submit to the Committee copies of all approvals for construction of stalls in the said Market made by him.
It is Important to note that the Committee had three Sittings at the Committee Room of the Abia State House of Assembly on 31/8/2020,14/9/2020 and with agreement of all concerned including Hon. Cosmos Ndukwe who appeared before the Committee on 14/9/2020, the Committee adjourned its Sitting to 10am on 22nd of September, 2020 at Ekeoha Shopping Center Aba for an on the spot investigation and verification of the contents of the petition.
All parties were ordered by the Committee to appear before them and the Commissioner for Trade and Investment, Hon Cosmos Ndukwe was also ordered, once again, to present copies of all approvals of shops construction authorized by him.
SITTING AT EKEOHA SHOPPING CENTRE ON 22 SEPTEMBER, 2020.
On the said adjourned date of 22/9/2020, the Committee members namely: Hon Munachim Alozie, Hon Paul Tharibo,, Hon Obinna Ichita and Hon Sir Abraham Oba arrived at the Sitting venue of the Committee being Ekeoha Shopping Center with the Committee’s staff and aides of the Committee members including security men officially assigned to the Committee, where they met the petitioners and one of the Respondents, Mr Friday Dimiri, the Chairman of Ekeoha Shopping Center Traders Association. Note however that Hon. Cosmos Ndukwe was absent and he did not present copies of the said approvals as ordered by the House.
The Committee observed preliminary protocols and proceeded to carry out its investigation to ascertain the truthfulness or otherwise of the contents of the petition when suddenly one of the aides to the Chairman of Ekeoha Shopping Center Traders Association snatched handset of one of the aides of a Committee member under the pretence that the said committee Member’s aide took snapshots of the said Friday Dimiri, a ploy to disrupt the investigation by the committee by causing an uproar. While the Committee members were asking the said aide to the said Friday Dimiri to surrender the said handset, he took off and disappeared into the market. It took the Chairman of the Committee who commanded the said Friday Dimiri to order his aide to return the said handset before the handset resurfaced and was handed over to the Committee Chairman.
Shortly after the above incident, the Committee proceeded to move round the market. However, the Chairman of Ekeoha Shopping Center Traders Association, Mr Friday Dimiri introduced another gimmick to frustrate the committee by insisting that the Committee would only move to the the areas of the Market pointed out by him and not as alleged in the petition. However, the Committee insisted that they should be allowed to direct their movement in the Market. Suddenly, some thugs, believed to have been sent by the Commissioner for Trade and Investment, Hon Cosmos Ndukwe, and the Chairman of the Traders Association, Mr Friday Dimiri, started hauling packs of sachet water at the Committee Members with the chairman of the Traders Association nodding and giving thumbs up to the thugs.
In the melee that ensued, one of the thugs attempted to snatch a gun from one of the security men in the entourage of the Committee members but for his gallantry.
The Chief Security Officer of the said Ekeoha Shopping Center who was present and on duty during the period of the Attack, made no attempt to protect the Committee members, didn’t attempt to stop the Attack, pretended not to have known any of the thugs, didn’t attempt by himself or his security boys, to arrest the thugs, but kept smiling to himself all through.
Given the circumstances above, the Committee was forced to stop further movement in the market to complete their assignment being to carry out on-the-spot verification of the contents of the said Petition.
COMMITEE FINDINGS ON THEIR ATTACK ON 22ND SEPTEMBER, 2020.
(1) That the thugs numbering about 7 attacker the Committee Members
(2) That the said thugs hauled packs of sachet water on the committee Members to frustrate them from carrying out on the spot verification of the contents of the petition giving rise to their being set up.
(3) one of the aides of the Chairman of Ekeoha Shopping Center Traders Association snatched the handset of one of the aides of a Committee member to stoke agitation against the Committee
(4) Throughout the attack on the Committee Members, the Chairman of Ekeoha Shopping Center Traders Association kept thumbing the thugs up and encouraged them to do more
(5) The said Chairman of the Ekeoha Shopping Center Traders Association, Mr Friday Dimiri, insisted that he would be the person to lead which direction the Committee would go in the Market, an obvious position to frustrate the Committee
(6) The Commissioner for Trade and Investment, Hon. Cosmos Ndukwe and his counsel stayed away from the said Proceedings of the 22nd of September, 2020 despite the Committee’s Order that all parties be present at the said Ekeoha Shopping Center in an obvious foreknowledge of the attack on the Committee Members
(7) The Thugs made attempt to snatch a gun from one of the Security Officers on the entourage of the Committee.
(8) The Chief Security Officer of the said Ekeoha Shopping Center did nothing to protect the Committee members during the attack on them nor did he attempt to quell the situation or to arrest the thugs.
(I) That the Commissioner for Trade and Investment, Hon. Cosmos Ndukwe, be Suspended forthwith from exercising the functions of that Office pending the completion of the Committee’s works
(Ii) That the Chairman of Ekeoha Shopping Center Traders Association, Mr Friday Dimiri, be suspended forthwith from exercising the functions of that Office to enable the Committee complete its assignment.
(III) That the Chief Security Officer of Ekeoha Shopping Center, Aba, be suspended forthwith to ensure a better secured environment for the Committee to revisit the Market.
(IV) All security agencies in the State to carry out a thorough investigation of the attack on the Committee Members including the attempt to snatch a gun from one of the security men on the entourage of the Committee in view of the recent security challenges in the State”.
With the kind permission of the Speaker, the Ad-hoc Committee Chairman laid the Report before the House.
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The House adopted the Report as a working document while the Speaker committed the Report to the Abia State House of Assembly Committee of the Whole for further legislative action on the 6th of October, 2020.