Concerned members of the Butchers Association of Edo State on Tuesday appealed to the state Governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki to remove the state chairman, Mr Akhere Odigie, who they claimed was not a butcher but was imposed on them five years ago.
They further alleged that the gross incompetence of Odigie is costing members millions of naira, to the extent that butchers lose between N80,000 and N120,000 for each cow slaughtered in Benin City on a daily basis.
Besides, they alleged that Odigie extorts monies at gun point from innocent butchers while threatening to close down the abbatoir of those who fail to pay up, boasting that he has the governor’s backing and is above the law.
One butcher, Hajia Bilikisu Sule, said, “Many butchers are also indebted to banks and money lenders besides the cattle dealers. While some owe a minimum of N20 million, others owe N40 million and above to these cattle dealers.
“This includes women and even the Hausa people among us. Some have even sold landed properties, vehicles and other valuables to remain in business. Besides, all was well with us before the government imposed Mr Odigie on the association
in violation of the constitution of the Butchers association.
“We know that Odigie claims he is a relative of Governor Obaseki. That was why he imposed him on us. That is also why, besides his ignorance of the code of conduct for all butchers since he was never a butcher himself, he has engaged among other illegalities, high-handedness, abuse of office, extortion, thuggery and intimidation of members.
“Many butchers have left the public slaughter houses because their lives are at risk of the hired thugs who parade the arena daily and on the instructions of Mr. Odigie who bullies and intimidates them. Even the said Odigie regularly goes about with armed thugs and threatens innocent butchers by shooting into the air,” one of the butchers, Hajia Bilikisu Sule alleged.
Another butcher, Mr. Ahmadu Muhammad said, “In spite of everything going on which is clearly wrong and out of place, the Mr Odigie keeps boasting and telling anyone who cares to listen that no one can remove him from office because he is a relative of the state governor.
The present situation is unacceptable because it has put many individual butchers into huge debts running with cattle dealers. Butchers are all operating at a loss with huge investment and zero returns. We want Governor Obaseki to remove Odigie from office and pave the way for the conduct of a proper, open, free and fair election where qualified and competent butchers who have relevant experience can vie for offices.
“As a governor who was democratically elected in a popular election, it is only proper that Governor Obaseki will allow we butchers to benefit from the same democratic process by allowing us to hold a free and fair election to elect competent officials to run our affairs.”
But in his reaction, Odigie who explained that he is in his second term leading the association, described the allegations as lies and politically motivated.
“They are doing that because they have lost their battle. We slaughter cows everyday. I just finished from a meeting now,” Odigie said while debunking the claim that he was not a butcher.
He said his leadership has sanitised the Edo Butchers Association after breaking away from the National Butchers Association.