Tension In Calabar Market As Rate Agents Kill Iron Scavenger

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Fears of retaliation swept over Calabar's popular Marian Market and surrounding areas following the alleged murder of a Hausa boy by some rate-collecting agents.

The reported killing took place on Wednesday afternoon at the market when the agents accosted the boy and ordered him and his partners who were coming back from collecting rusted and condemned irons with their wheelbarrows to pay N100 as a levy.

According to market women who witnessed the incident, the young men refused to pay the N100 levy paid by other hawkers, claiming they were not hawking anything and were only passing through the market.

The women said the rate agents would not hear any of the boys' excuses and tried to force them to part with the meagre amount.

The boys stood their ground, insisting they would not pay, which led to a big fight that unfortunately ended in the death of one of them.

“A fight ensued between the agents and the Hausa boys in the market. One of the agents brutally hit the Hausa boy, and he died instantly. There was pandemonium all over the market as a result. The agents took to their heels,” Mrs Angelina Effiong, one of the traders, explained.

According to another trader, Cyril Umoh, the enraged Hausa boys later took their kinsman's body to their settlement for burial.

As of Thursday, the panic persisted as large numbers of the deceased kinsmen, armed with weapons, invaded the Marian market, looking for any of the rate collectors.

Sensing violence and reprisals, many market women and bus drivers on the route fled and abandoned the market.

The police had dispatched a large number of officers to the market to help with the situation.

According to police spokesperson Irene Ugbo: “We have security meetings every morning, but the issue was not mentioned. Seriously, I am unaware. However, I will find out and respond."

There have been several complaints from traders about how the agents commit atrocities, manhandle female traders, cart away their wares, or outright destroy them.

The complaints and reports compelled the state government to prohibit rate collection, but the agents refused to comply with the official directive.

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