The traders under the auspices of ‘South East Markets Amalgamated Traders Association, in a statement made available to journalists in Awka on Tuesday, said traders in the area had nothing to do with the Movement for the Actualisation of Biafra and the Indigenous People of Biafra, headed by Kanu.
The IPOB is a splinter group from MASSOB.
The traders’ statement was signed by their President and the Secretary, Okwudili Ezenwankwo and Temple Udeh respectively.
They said that their position on the issue had become necessary because of frequent calls by the secessionist groups for closure of markets in the area, stressing that the public could be deceived by such calls into believing that traders were involved in the lawless struggle.
The statement read, “We are constrained to react to the continuous calls for close of businesses in the zone in protest and solidarity for Biafra.
“Traders in the South-East wish to dissociate ourselves from MASSOB and IPOB. We have nothing to do whatsoever with these lawless groups.
“The difficulties and hardship, which traders and residents in general suffer during these protests, had made the traders to react to the situation and the development and make its position very clear and unambiguous.
“The invasion of markets and other business outfits and the destruction of property of individuals like shops and vehicles in the name of pro-Biafra protest is not only condemnable but unacceptable.
“We are yet to understand the wisdom in the protest where the properties and other valuables and belongings of the Igbo are either vandalised or destroyed by fellow Igbo in the name of Pro-Biafra protest.
“The hardship, which the Igbo that relocated from the North-East in the wake of Boko Haram insurgency are passing through, is still staring every right thinking Igbo man in the face, yet the Pro-Biafra groups are calling other Igbo doing their businesses in other parts of Nigeria to relocate to the South-East. This doesn’t make any sense.
“No particular zone in this country is an island and none can successfully develop without inter-relationship with the others.
.“Times are hard and the traders condemn, in strong terms, any action, by any group or individual, that will further aggravate the already very difficult times experienced by traders in this area.
“The traders are totally not in support of any protest that will further adversely affect the people of the South-East.
“We want to state clearly that traders in the South East are solidly in support of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.”
The statement stressed that “traders in the zone shall not support any action that will aggravate the hardship already being experienced by Nigerians”.
They appealed to the President to address the issue of dilapidated federal infrastructure in the South East, particularly the federal roads in the zone, which they described as death traps.
They listed the bad roads in the zone to include the Enugu Onitsha Expressway, Enugu¬Abakaliki Expressway, Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway, Aba-Owerri Road and Owerri-Port Harcourt Road.