From Benjamin Babine, Abuja
Months after over 50 cars were set ablaze at the Apo-Kabusa axis of Abuja by hoodlums who hijacked the #EndSARS protests, life seems to have gone back to normal while the affected car dealers and owners continue to wallow in silent pain and penury.
The tragedy happened around the Apo Mechanic Village on Monday, October 19, 2020. The day after the occurrence, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Police Command confirmed that seven persons were killed and several vehicles, shops and houses burnt.
Many of the car dealers lamented losing tens of millions as a result of the violence and called for support from government. However, it has been over six weeks and nothing is being heard about compensation while the area reeks of anger as the people avoid speaking about the incident.
“Don’t bother asking us questions.” Those were the words of an affected car dealer who lost millions, when asked if the government had provided any compensation for the tragedy. Convinced that government had no intention of helping them, they shouted:
“We don’t need your help and neither do we need theirs (government’s.) There’s no point pretending like the government have any plans to help us. We know they sponsored many of those hoodlums to disrupt the protest, so why would they come to our aid for something they engineered?”
In anger they restricted our reporter from snapping any pictures displaying their distrust: “We want to move on from this tragedy. There’s no need coming to make people recount their losses when we no nothing will come out of it. Please go.”
Many of the business owners are still counting their losses. Emeka Enwereji from Obingwa Local Government of Abia State said he lost over N50 million as his car sales stand was completely razed by thugs:
“If the law enforcement agents had acted swiftly, the thugs who appeared from the Lokogoma axis of old Kabusa Junction wouldn’t have wrought the kind of damage visited on our businesses.” He appealed to the government, particularly the Minster of FCT, Mallam Muhammad Bello, to make good his promises to pacify them.
Another victim, Abambe Addo Auwal, a mechanic, alleged that the next day of the attack, policemen and soldiers were around the premises and still did nothing to stop them:
“Here also, there were a lot of policemen and soldiers. So, the cutlass-wielding hoodlums came out, and the police and army were here and watched while those people completed what they started the previous day (Monday).
“There was not even a word from them to stop the arsonists and they started burning the remaining places; they cleared everywhere. As they were moving, a member of the mob used his stick to break the windscreen of a police Hilux. That was when the police, who were watching which other cars were being burnt, started firing teargas.”