From Fred Itua, Abuja
Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Muhammad Bello has come under fire from Abuja traders over what they described as the poor handling of Wednesday’s mayhem at the nation’s capital.
The Wednesday clash between commercial motorcyclists and traders that claimed five lives also led to the of millions of naira.
On Wednesday night, when the minister visited the scene, he ordered an indefinite closure of Dei – Dei International Market. Whereas, okada riders, who ignited the fight, were not banned by the minister, despite a city-wide condemnation.
He directed for the immediate closure after inspecting the scene of the incident with FCT Commissioner of Police Sunday Babaji, Director of State Security Services and other security agencies, as well as top officials of the FCT Administration.
Trouble started in the market when a female trader yet to be identified fell off a commercial motorcycle and was crushed to death by an articulated vehicle.
Bello directed the community and the market leaders to fish out the hoodlums responsible for the crisis.
“The community and market leaders must fish out hoodlums and bad eggs among them, unfortunately, this time around hoodlums carry arms and they shot innocent people. As a matter of fact, I saw four corpses this is very sad and totally unequivocally unacceptable in Abuja,” he said.
“We have agreed with security agencies that full-scale investigations will be done, and the communities have to be part and parcel of the solution or else there will be no peace.
“In the interim the timber market and the surrounding markets, including all the activities on the road that have clustered the road and made it unpassable will all stop until the technical team reviews everything, and then we will take the next decision.
“I am appealing to other communities within the FCT that there is no tribal or religious misunderstanding because all the leadership of various communities have lived here in peace for many years. This is simply the matter of criminals and hoodlums taking the laws into their hands.”
Vice-chairman of the Timber Shed Market Dei-Dei Ifeanyi Chibata said about 45 to 50 shops were burnt, with 25 vehicles set ablaze which total over N1 billion.
A major furniture dealer, who identified himself as Okafor Ohaegbu, told Daily Sun that the action of the minister proves that he’s protecting okada riders, who should ordinarily be banned.
He bemoaned the shutting down of the market, claiming that traders are the victims. He warned that if activities okada riders in the area are not curtailed, a fresh crisis may break out.
Meanwhile, Commissioner of Police, FCT Police Command, Babaji Sunday, has dismissed any purported fresh crisis in the FCT. He said his men are on patrol.