Aba popularly known as Enyimba city is and will continue to be the commercial nerve centre of not only Aba but the entire South East geographical zone. The city has an advantage due to its position. It is at the centre and can easily be accessed by states in the South East and the South South.
The quantum of commercial activities that goes on in the city on a daily basis is such that the revenue realised from the city boosts the wealth base of Abia State. With the present state administration’s determination to fix roads in the city, the commercial outlook of Enyimba city has continued to grow in leaps and bounds.
The administration has given roads leading to major markets in the city a facelift. In Aba, there are many markets located within and outside the city. We have the Ariaria International Market, Ahia Ohu Ngwa Road Market, Afor Ule , Ahia Nkwo, Goodmorning Market just to mention a few.
The emphasis in this story is on Cemetery Market and why the name was changed to Eziukwu Road Market by the indigenes and traders. The market is located at the site of an abandoned cemetery that is why it was called Cemetery Market. The major part of the market is sited on a burial ground. Mrs Okne Ibe a stockfish dealer said the greatest thing that happened to both traders and the market is the change in name. According to her: “When they were constructing the market stalls, they dug out skulls and skeletons.
Traders have also experienced strange happenings in the market. For instance, a woman priced a medium-sized stock fish and when the seller decided to sell at the price the woman settled for, she (seller) looked around and woman was nowhere to be found.”
Austin Iwe, a wheelbarrow pusher also narrated his experience with a customer. He said: “On that fateful day, a woman came with her wares and settled for a price with me. She paid me but on the way the woman and the wares I was carrying all disappeared.” Also some of the traders who spoke on the weird happenings at the market before it was changed to Eziukwu Road Market said if you bent down at the market, you would notice some people walking on their toes.
An indigene of Eziukwu and a renowned traditionalist Mazi Aga Nwaorgu, who spoke to Saturdaty Telegraph on the strange happenings in the market said the claims might not be far from the truth. “We insisted that once we desecrate the dead they are bound to resist and appear in various forms all to protest that their rest place had been disturbed,” he stated.
According to him the change of the name from Cemetery Market to Eziukwu Road Market and the per-formance of certain rituals no doubt appeased the dead and returned peace to the market. He also confirmed that the strange happening had since stopped and that the traders now enjoy the market. Traders at the stockfish section of the market also attested to the fact that strange things used to happen there. Mrs Ada Oholo a trader said that she had to pray very hard and apply olive oil to stop the mysterious noise she often heard whenever she came to her shed.
“I am not surprised because the shops were constructed on graves,” Oholo said. Mrs, Comfort Adiogwu a petty trader at the market confirmed the stories that many mysterious things took place there but said that was in the past. She said that with the prayers that were said before and after the close of each market day, the market is so calm. She further said that apart from siting the market at the former cemetery it had and would continue to be where man and spirit meet.
She said: “Do not think that everybody you see in the market is a human being. A man once met his relation that died two years ago in a market though not the cemetery market selling earrings. But when the man approached the dead relation he disappeared leaving his wares.”
But Ibe Okpi, a truck pusher, said that it was not only in Eziukwu Market that you notice mysterious happenings. He said he had been a truck pusher for over five years not only at Eziukwu but in other markets. He said that on a daily basis they often saw and encountered various things.
He recounted how he carried goods for a dark complexioned woman but when they got to the bus stop he looked at the woman and now saw a light complexioned person, so beautiful and radiant. He said that the woman paid him double and did not demand any balance.
He also narrated another experience at Eziukwu Market. He said: “I carried goods bought by a woman to the bus stop, but all of a sudden the woman spoke to me in a language that infuriated me. I angrily replied and rained insults on her, but when I got home my legs began to swell. It got to the stage that I was rushed home by my pastor to trace the cause of the sickness and it was discovered that it was my encounter with the woman. They prayed for me and I got relieved.”
But some of the traders in the other section of the market especially where they sell provisions or confectionaries said that nothing of such had happened at the market. Mr. Okon who sells confectionaries said that it was all lies to say that dead people roamed about in the market in the past.
He said: “We have not had any experience of any sort, we cannot because we pray every morning before opening our shops and also the market association organises prayer sessions periodically. During these prayer sessions, powerful men of God are invited to dedicate the market to God. We also as a body make sure that fetish or devilish materials are removed from the market.”
Another trader, Mazi Bernard Ezegu, dismissed the claims saying he does not believe in spirits. According to him, those who claimed they noticed that in the past may have been suffering from malaria and that often causes hallucination. One of the wholesale dealers at the market who gave his name simply as Daniel said the market would continue to be the best in Aba.
According to him, the volume of business transaction that goes on at the market on a daily basis is enormous. The market has continued to generate revenue enough to sustain the state and that people should focus on that instead of the commenting on past mysterious happenings at the market.
He said government should come to the aid of traders at the market by constructing major roads leading to it. “All we are saying is that something serous should be done to put the entrance road to the market in good shape.
Our customers come from all parts of the country including sub Saharan Africa to buy goods from Eziukwu market. Now the rains are setting in and the road will be so impassable to the extent that it will cost you double to access the market from Asa Road leading to where they call No. 1. We call on the government to as a matter of urgency come to the aid of the traders at the market,” he stated. He also said that the issue of flooding is another problem facing the market.
The drainages need to be evacuated to allow free flow of flood water after downpour. He further said that the issue of strange happenings at the market had been taken care of through prayers. “All we now need is for government to remove the multiple levies charged traders on a daily basis. The economy is tough and paying these levies will further tighten the financial rope around our necks,” Daniel added. For Benjamin Obeka, Eziukwu market is one of the peaceful and safe markets in Aba.
The market association according to him is so organised that if you have any problem as a trader or customer you will receive prompt attention. “Cases abound where customers that lost various sums of money recovered them once they were reported at the appropriate quarters.
It is only at the Eziukwu Road Market that you do not hear of clashes among traders. Many traders from different ethnic groups co-exist peacefully and relate as brothers and sisters. “At Eziukwu Market, we have a way of controlling extortion and arbitrary increase in prices.
Once it is reported to the association we will swing into action and bring the culprits to book. In the past years, the market had peacefully its their leaders without rancour or violence, that is why the market is adjudged the most peaceful and coordinated market in the Enyimba city. Saturday Telegraph also sought the reaction of a pastor who leads a church along Eziukwu Road, Pastor David Igwe.
He said that such strange claims by traders were a figment of their imaginations. According to him it is simple and clear in the Bible that is appointed onto man to die once and after judgment follows. Igwe stated that what the traders saw before the name of the market was changed were mere familiar spirits that roam the earth.
He supported the idea to change the name of the market to Eziukwu Road Market. “It is good we have changed from Cemetery to Eziukwu Road Market be cause there is something in a name. Cemetery is where the dead are buried and should not be used as a market,” he said.
The chairman of the market association at the time the name was changed, a devout Christian and a successful businessman Amb. Onyekachi Okoro, said that the claims were not true. He said: “I am a born again Christian, I do not believe in all these things. The truth of the matter is that it was a collective decision by both traders and indigenes to change the name from Cemetery Market to Eziukwu Road Market.” The change of name, he also said, was not at all connected with claims by some people that strange things happened there.
“I speak to you as the chairman, it was in my tenure that the change was made.” Okorie also stated that nobody did any rituals to appease any spirits. He however agreed that the section of the market that was formerly used for burying the dead is the stockfish area in the market, adding that in the course of constructing market stalls and other buildings,the workers must have dug up skulls and bones of the dead. He further dismissed the claims that dead people appear as spirits in the market that made them change the name.
Okorie further said traders and customers at the market had enjoyed commercial boom. “We at the market are aware that some people may entertain such fears because of the site but all I am saying is that nothing of such happened and I have not seen one myself, it is all fabricated story. As a Christian, I believe that the soul is what lives forever the body decays and turns to manure,” he said.
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