Shop owners at the Old Stadium Lane Plaza, Owerri, Imo state, have commended the state governor, Hope Uzodinma, for returning their shops taken from them by the administration of a former governor of the state, Rochas Okorocha.
The traders said that Uzodinma’s decision to unconditionally return their lock- shops to them had shown that ” he is a governor with the people’s interest at heart.”
The traders who recalled how the Okorocha’s administration took their shops in 2017, said that life had been difficult to them.
The Chairman of the Old stadium lane Forum, Okonkwo Sopuruchi, said that apart from the Okorocha’s administration seizing their shops which were over 100, it also reallocated it to other people.
The Chairman stated that the Okorocha’s administration had in 2017 knocked down the plaza and built a new one, and rather than allocate the shops to them ( original owners) after rebuilding it, the administration reallocated it to new people, entirely.
“Okorocha’s bid to short-change us caused uproar and disaffection among the original owners.” The chairman said.
Sopuruchi said that they made every effort to retrieve their shops all to no avail until the Uzodinma’s administration came on board.
“Having gone through the relevant documents backing our claims, the Governor mandated that the shops be returned to us.”The chairman added
He said that the present Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Simon Ebegbulem, and the ISAMATA President, Emmanuel Ezeanochie played very big roles in returning their shops to them.
Sopuruchi said that Ebegbulem and Ezeanochie interfaced with them on behalf of the state government.
The Chairman narrated that the Commerce and Industry Commissioner didn’t only show interest in upholding justice and living up to the Recovery of the 3R Government, but went indepth in investigating why their shops were taken from them.
“As a listening Governor who believes in justice and fairness, Governor Hope Uzodimma, Onwa Imo, few days ago ordered that our shops be returned after ascertaining the true story. I can’t thank our dear Governor enough, for this rare gesture” he said.
However, he pleaded that while they have over 125 members in the forum, and 44 lockup shops returned to them with 66 members sharing the 44, they would be more grateful if Government can quickly construct another plaza at the same lane, in order to adequately accommodate the remaining members.
He gave the ISAMATA President, Hon. Ezeanochie Emmanuel a thumbs up for being there for them throughout the trial period. Okonkwo added that as the representative of all the traders in Imo State, Hon Ezeanochie never relented.