Traders at the Informal Sector of Garki Model Market, Abuja, on Monday lost goods worth millions of naira when the section of the market was demolished by the Federal Capital Territory Administration.
Secretary, Informal Sector, Traders Association, Mr John Ibina, told the News Agency of Nigeria that the demolition was carried out by the Abuja Market Management Limited (AMML) and Department of Development Control.
Ibina said the traders lost goods worth N500 million, adding that he alone lost goods worth over N15 million.
He explained that the demolition was in breach of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed with the management and FCTA to provide temporary place for them before demolition.
He said the move to demolish the section of the market was made by the market management in 2017 but was halted pending when the traders would be relocated.
“We are not occupying this place illegally, we acquired here officially from FCTA before the market was handed over to the Abuja Market Management Limited because we have our papers.
“We did not expect this because the matter has been in court and we have a consent judgment and also, there was an MoU where we agreed not to see what we are seeing now.
“In the MoU, we agreed that with the Abuja Market Management and the developer that they were going to build temporary shops for us.
“There was an implementation committee that was set up to oversee and allocate those temporary shops in line with the MoU but on May 3, they brought a letter that they have built 54 shops.
“They came back the following day to show us where they wanted to start the relocation from but we were surprised to see them with bulldozer today demolishing everywhere,’’ he said.
Ibina said that the traders were currently confused as to their fate as the management had also demolished the 54 temporary shops constructed for them.
A shop owner, Mr John Ndukaku, said the case had lingered since 2014 when the developer of the new plaza under construction started work in the market.
Ndukaku said that there was an agreement to relocate them before demolition, adding that he lost all the goods in his shop because there was no prior notice for them to evacuate their goods.
He explained that the new plaza under construction was being sold for N12 million, which according to him, is too expensive for them to afford.
in his reaction, the Head Corporate Affairs, AMML, Mr Innocent Amaechina said that they were taken unaware by the Department of Development Control.
According to him, the demolition is contrary to the agreement reached with the traders.
Amaechina said there was an agreement to first provide an alternative place for the traders before the demolition, adding that that the temporary place was allocated with the first batch being constructed.
He said the second batch was underway; assuring traders that the market management would do everything possible to provide alternative place for all the affected traders.
According to him, there is an understanding between the management and the traders but the demolition took them unaware.
A combined team of security agencies cordoned off the place, while the affected traders were trying to rescue their good.