Monday, December 4, 2017 9:51 pm
Armed with placards with various inscriptions such as “AMAC leave us alone’’, “we are Nigerians, save us from AMAC’’, “Hon. Minister of FCT save us from AMAC’’, “Reps. save our shops we are decent business people,’ hundreds of traders at the popular Utako market, took to the streets of Abuja on Monday in protest against what they believed was a well orchestrated plot by Abuja Municipal Area Council, AMAC to take their shops away from them.
NAN reports that business activities had been crippled at the market since on Sunday following protest by the aggrieved traders over alleged plan by AMAC to take over the market.
Traders had closed their shops and were seen protesting outside the market, while security operatives barricaded the entrance to the market.
Mr Nelson Onwuemeodo, the Chairman of Utako Shops Owners and Market Association, said that the market was not built by the council.
“AMAC only allocated the empty land to us, while we built the market based on the council’s specification and supervision.
He said that the traders were shocked when they saw armed policemen and containers brought into the market
“If the government desires to build a new market, let them go and build. But if they are bent on demolishing the market, let them bring someone to value and pay us the worth of the shops.’’
According to him, the council did not invite the traders for negotiation before moving into the market with the police and engineers to demolish the market.
He said the traders had not been enjoying the dividends of democracy, yet they pay their taxes promptly.
Onwuemeodo recalls that the traders had filed a suit in an FCT High Court when AMAC attempted to take over the market in 2014, adding that the court ruled in their favour.
The chairman said the traders filed another suit on Nov 30, against the FCT minister and three others following attempt by M.N.A TAJ Construction Company Ltd to destroy property and shops located at the market.
Mrs Zainab Salisu, the Women leader of the Shops Owners and Market Association, urged AMAC chairman not to renege on his promise.
She said a situation where the chairman would make promises and back out would not augur well for the traders.
Mr Abdulahi Candido, the Chairman Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) has assured shop owners at the Utako Ultra Modern Market that no trader will be shortchanged after remodeling the market.
Candido said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Abuja.
He said that under his watch, no trader would be shortchanged and no new person would be allocated shops unless all the allottees had been given shops.
According to him, we do not want crisis, we do not want to lose a single soul, the presence of the police is to protect lives and properties and to ensure orderliness.
He assured the traders that there was no cause for alarm as nobody would be displaced because of the remodeling.
According to him, the remodeling will start with the space that is not occupied, we don’t want to disrupt anybody’s source of livelihood, that is why we are avoiding to relocate the market
He said that the market was in a deplorable state, hence the need to remodel the market to protect the lives and properties of the traders.