The contractor handling Orie okporo Modern Market in Orlu Local Government Area of Imo State on Wednesday said that the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the reconstruction of the market was not manipulated.
Mr Valentine Ugbala, the Chief Executive of Valentino Da Vinci Ltd., the contractor handling the reconstruction of the market, said this at a media briefing in Owerri on Wednesday.
Ugbala explained that in Jan. 2018, the Imo Ministry of Non-Formal Sector and Market Development, now Ministry of Commerce and Industry, requested for the reconstruction of the market by a developer at no cost to the government.
He said he bidded for the market along with others and won the contract with a directive from government to him to commence work after an MoU was signed between him, the government and the communities that owed the market, part of which was for him to manage the market for 15 years.
He said that problem started at the fourth phase of reconstruction when some persons in the community claimed he had derailed from the original MoU.
“I never manipulated the MoU. It is still intact. The communities were to be compensated with 20 per cent of the stores, while any encroachment on land are to be amicably handled.
“I have never claimed ownership of the Orie okporo Market as purported in some quarters. One community out of the three communities – the Udogadi Autonomous Community- is demanding extra compensation, saying that the market is in their domain, which is not part of the agreement,” he said.
Ugbala said that he stood for peace and urged those aggrieved to shield their sword for the development of the communities.
Mr Robert Udensi, the President General of Okporo Middle Age Association (OMAA) Okporo, Orlu, said a seven-man committee was set up to look into the matter when the crisis started in 2018.
He said the Okporo association was made up of two members each from the three autonomous communities that owned the market, adding that the crisis was amicably resolved in 2019 through a court process.
Udensi, however, expressed regret that the same group started another problem in 2021, claiming they were not part of the initial MoU.
According to him, the community has been developing steadily since the market reconstruction started and called for peace.
Chief Frederick Nwaike, a Community Leader and member of the seven-man Peace Committee on Orieokporo Market, and Pastor Ifeanyichukwu Ukaegbu, a representative of Udogadi Community and member of the peace committee, attributed the crisis to selfish interest on the part of some members of the community.
They said that the said MoU was signed in the presence of representatives of the then Ministry of Non-formal Sector and Market Development, the communities and the contractor and was still binding on all concerned.
They urged the warring faction to give peace a chance and allow the contractor to finish his work for meaningful development of the communities. (NAN)