Onitsha Pupils Take to the Streets, Protest Siting of Market Near School

By David-Chyddy Eleke in Awka
The siting of a market near Beth-roots Model Schools, Onitsha, Anambra State on Tuesday sparked off street protests by pupils of the school aged between four and 16.
The pupils, who carried placards with different inscriptions, lamented the indiscriminate building of shops and now a “full blown market” near their school, saying it was against their right to education.
Some of their placards read: “Don’t allow Education to go into extinction”, “Respect our right to education” “Our future is worth more than money,” “I love school, please keep me safe”, and “Live and Let live” among others.
Speaking to journalists during the protest, the leader of the pupils, who gave her name as Chioma, called on the state Governor Willie Obiano to intervene.
She said: “They want to expose us to imminent danger by siting this market here. How can we cope with the volume of traffic that will be on this road if this market is allowed to be?
“Already, this place is built up with shops which were not on the original plan for this area; now they are building this market again.
“Our governor, Chief Willie Obiano, should save us from this calamity. All of us must not be traders.
“Our founding fathers like Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, Chinua Achebe, Prof. Kenneth Dike, Prof. Chike Obi and so on were not traders. Why are they foisting this trader mentality on all us now?”
THISDAY gathered that the counsel to the school, Mr Valentine Utulu, had earlier written to the state governor asking him to stop the distortion of the master plan of the area by traders and such interest groups.
The lawyer’s petition entitled: “Protest against the distortion of the master plan of Victory Estate, Odoagba/Otakpo phase two, 3-3, Onitsha” was dated 17th October, 2017.
The petition read in part: “There is no approval for a market in that vicinity. The area is designated as a residential area, with schools and limited commercial activity.
“There is no provision made in the master plan to accommodate the huge traffic of vehicles the proposed market will attract and it will greatly and adversely affect the quality of life of residents, pupils and those merely driving through.
“It is wrong to site a market next to a school, any school for that matter.
“We are therefore by this letter urge you sir, in the name of God
and for the benefit of posterity to use your good offices to put a
stop to the plans of Mr. Ikenna Unachukwu to bring a market into a
residential Estate and in the middle of nursery, primary and secondary
schools, in defiance of existing laws.”