Chief Enibe Francis, the Chairman of Mgbuka Amazu Market in Onitsha, Anambra State, is reportedly missing after an unidentified group of assailants allegedly kidnapped him in connection with events allegedly connected to Monday’s sit-at-home protest.
The event occurred on Monday, just after the chairman opened the market as instructed by the state’s market organisations, according to sources in the market who verified to our correspondent on Tuesday.
According to reports, the armed thugs beat him until he was unconscious before loading him into a waiting car and taking off for an unidentified location. His whereabouts are still unknown.
The state governor, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, had directed market leaders in the state to open their markets on Mondays by observing prayer sessions and cleaning the markets and drainages.
In the past few weeks, market executives in the state, led by the president of Anambra State Markets Amalgamated Traders Association, Chief Humphrey Anuna, have been moving around markets across the state on Mondays to monitor and ensure that markets comply with the directive of opening on Mondays. This is to counter the Monday sit-at-home exercise.
After the monitoring exercise about three weeks ago, Anuna announced the sealing of no fewer than seven markets after they were found not to have complied with the directive.
Confirming the abduction of the market leader to journalists, Anuna said he had been briefed and the market executives were making frantic efforts to establish contact with him.
“He was said to have been whisked away when about five full armed men stormed his shop while shooting indiscriminately into the air, beat him to stupor and dumped him into the boot of their waiting SUV vehicle and zoomed off.”
Efforts to get the reaction of the state police spokesman, DSP Tochukwu Ikenga, proved abortive as calls and messages to his telephone line were not responded to as of the time of filing this report.
The Mgbuka Amazu Market is an old motor spare parts market situated along the heavily deplorable Onitsha-Owerri Road, where vehicles are stuck for several hours in traffic in flood-covered ditches.
Some of the residents who reacted wondered how the hoodlums were able to whisk the market leader away without any resistance.