Concerned members of the Edo State Butchers Association petitioned Governor Godwin Obaseki on Tuesday to remove Mr Akhere Odigie as state chairman, claiming he is not a butcher and was imposed on them five years ago.
Additionally, they alleged that Odigie’s tremendous incompetence is costing members millions of naira, with butchers losing between N80,000 and N120,000 per cow butchered each day in Benin City.
Additionally, they said that Odigie uses a gun to extort money from unwary butchers, threatening to close the abbatoir if they do not pay up, claiming that he has the governor’s backing and is beyond the law.
“As well as cattle sellers, many butchers are in debt to banks and money lenders,” Hajia Bilikisu Sule observed. While some owe as low as N20,000, others owe up to N40,000.
“This includes women and even members of the Hausa community. Some have even sold their land, vehicles, and other belongings in order to stay in business. Furthermore, everything was well with us prior to the government imposing Mr Odigie on the association in contravention of the group’s constitution.
“We are aware that Odigie asserts that he is a distant relative of Governor Obaseki. That was why he compelled us to accept him. That is also why, in addition to his ignorance of the code of behavior for all butchers, he has engaged in high-handedness, abuse of office, extortion, thuggery, and intimidation of members.
“Numerous butchers have fled public slaughterhouses for fear of being killed by hired thugs that march the arena everyday on the orders of Mr. Odigie, who bullies and intimidates them. Even the aforementioned Odigie is usually accompanied by armed goons and threatens innocent butchers with shots into the air,” one of the butchers, Hajia Bilikisu Sule, stated.
Mr. Ahmadu Muhammad, another butcher, stated, “Despite everything that is clearly wrong and out of place, Mr Odigie continues to boast and tell anybody who would listen that no one can remove him from office because he is a relative of the state governor.
“The current scenario is intolerable since it has landed numerous independent butchers in massive debt due to their dealings with livestock dealers. Butchers are all running at a loss, requiring significant investment with no return. We urge Governor Obaseki to depose Odigie and clear the door for a proper, open, free, and fair election in which qualified and competent persons with relevant experience can run for office.
“As a governor who was democratically elected in a popular election, Governor Obaseki is only just to allow us butchers to benefit from the same democratic process by enabling us to organize a free and fair election to elect competent individuals to administer our operations.”
Odigie, who stated that he is in his second tenure as the organization’s leader, dismissed the claims as false and propaganda.
“They are doing so as a result of their defeat. Every day, we slaughter cows. “I’ve just concluded a meeting,” Odigie stated, refuting the idea that he was not a butcher.
He said that after resigning from the National Butchers Association, his reign purified the state’s Butchers Association.