Traders in Oba Market in Oredo Local Government area of Benin on Wednesday protested alleged extortion by the council management.
Jenkius Owhajiri, who led the protesters, told newsmen in Benin that the council had written to collect N3, 000 from each of the traders to upset N6.5 million PHCN bill. Owhajiri said the money had earlier been collected in November, 2013.
According to him, the traders were surprised when the council Chairman, Osaro Obazee, called for another meeting asking them to pay another N3,000 each to upset the same bill.
“The council is fond of extorting money from us all the time. We do not have N3, 000 because not all of us are using PHCN electricity.
“As we speak, we are paying N150 daily for the maintenance of the market. Besides, those selling drinks pay N4,000 monthly, while those who own grinding machines and hair-dressing saloons pay N2,000 and N2,500, respectively. We are appealing to the governor to save us from being extorted by the council,” he said.
Reacting, Osaro Obazee, the Oredo Local Government Chairman, said he met the market unpaid bills when he assumed office, adding that the council was only trying to solve the problem as the landlord of the market.
Obazee said the traders, in a meeting with the council, agreed to pay the N3,000 each to upset the N6.5 million PHCN bill.
According to the council boss, he was surprised that “ the people we are trying to help have taken to the street in protest”.
“A committee comprising the traders, PHCN and the council representatives was set up to collect the money. It is not something that only the council is handling,” he said.
Obazee also added that plan was underway to ban the use of generators in the market to avoid fire outbreak.