Some concern Traders in Akwa Ibom at the weekend raised alarm over what they called, “the spate of destruction by Commissioner for Lands and Urban Renewal, Mr. Ime Ekpo, in the guise of working on the Governor’s directive and the master plan of Ibom Industrial Layout.”
The traders raised the concern, following a tip on the ploy of Mr. Ekpo to take over the construction of the Itam Fruit and Vegetable Market thereby frustration its aims and objectives.
They said they were disturbed to know that the same “Mr. Ime Ekpo, whom his days with Julius Berger as a site engineer, channeled all the waste water from the underground pipeline drainage to the same land earmarked for the construction of the Itam International Fruit and Vegetable Market. He fraudulently absconded with the billions of Naira he made from the dubious project. The same Ime Ekpo is now back to distort the ongoing construction work at the Market, a project we have worked tirelessly to see it completed in the shortest possible time. This is a market that Governor Udom Emmanuel has openly declared to support and finance its construction with complete drainage system.”
According to the traders, Mr. Ekpo’s devilish act will dispossess more than 30,000 traders of their stalls and capitals injected into the construction, adding that “bulk of the money we have injected into the project came from the interest-free loan granted us by the State Governor, Deacon Udom Emmanuel.”
“We have heard rumours that part of the reasons Mr. Ime Ekpo is using to knock the work off is the fact that the site was strictly meant for industrial layout. And we want to ask, do we not have Timber and building material market there? Do we not have abattoir and livestock market there? Do we not have where the Hausa are selling all sort of vegetable and food items there? Will Ime Ekpo deny the fact that within the two months of the construction work that many people have been empowered? He now wants to end their livelihood due to his insatiable greed, as we are reliably informed that Julius Berger is mounting pressure on him to either stop the work or risk returning their billions he got for the crude work he did for them” they lamented.
“There is tension and threats of breakdown of law and order in the area, consequent upon Mr. Ime Ekpo’s audacity to halt the almost-completed project. We will go to any extent to get him and his cohorts to pay for this, if he succeeds in his ploy,” they warned.
The traders further said “We cannot build our Akwa Ibom on the path of industrialization and self-sufficiency if we continue to allow the likes of Ime Ekpo to occupy positions of responsibility.”
They, therefore, urged the authorities and Governor Udom Emmanuel to resist any intent of dispossessing Akwa Ibom trader who will be bulk of the voters in the 2019 elections of their livelihood.
However, when trying to reach the Special assistant to the Governor on Trade and Market Matters as we learn he is also the state President for the traders; Mr Idorenyin Raphael, his contacts were switched off and no reply for text messages sent likewise that of Mr Ime Ekpo.