2.7bn Imo market contract crisis: Contractor says MoU not manipulated



The contractor handling Orie okporo Modern Market in Orlu Local Government Area of Imo State on Wednesday said 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 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 the government.






He said he bidded for the market along with others and won the contract with a directive from government him commence work after an MoU was signed between him, the government and the communities owed the market, part of which was for him 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 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 to look into the matter when the crisis started in 2018.

He said the Okporo association was made 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 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 binding on all .




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)