Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
A protest by natives of Gosa, comprising over 30 villages in Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory (FCT), on Monday saw demonstrators barricading Abuja’s busy Airport Road, causing major traffic gridlock for motorists heading in and out of the city.
UPDATE: Residents of Gosa village, today, continued their protest over demolition of the Gosa Market. The Abuja airport road has remained blocked for hours as security operatives try to calm the situation pic.twitter.com/zO0LOYpIcB
— ABUJA FACTS (@Abuja_Facts) March 26, 2018
The villagers, protesting the demolition of Gosa village market last Saturday, had defied the heavy presence of combined security forces and barricaded the road, burning disused tyres in a violent demonstration that lasted several hours.
Monday’s protests follow from demonstrations begun on Saturday afternoon, in response to which a detachment of mobile policemen foiled similar gatherings that afternoon, dispersing protesters and dismantling barricades and bonfires at the centre of the road.
However, villagers regrouped Monday even as security forces stationed at the entrance to the market allegedly refused traders and shoppers entry into the market for trading activities in the early hours.
It took the intervention of combined armed security forces to disperse protesters and clear the roads for motor vehicles that had built up for over several kilometres, especially on the section heading toward the airport and out of Abuja.
Chanting ‘we no go gree o, we no go gree’, the protesters had insisted that they would only leave the road if authorities rescinded the order to close the market, daring armed mobile policemen to shoot them.
In a chat with Daily Sun before the demolition, the Chief of the Market, Wakili Istifanus through his Special Adviser, Emmanuel Fahomuyi, had lamented that their repeated appeals to authorities had fallen on deaf ears.
“We inherited this market from our forefathers and it has been in existence for more than 30 years,” he said.
“Over 30 surrounding villages own this market and have equally been benefiting from it, especially the poor masses. Government has assisted in providing certain things to enhance the smooth functioning of the market.
“Our appeal to government is to allow the market be because, apart from the direct benefit, the villagers are not comfortable enough to shop at Garki or Maitama market. The FCT authorities should help us from the severe pressures from estate developers threatening to take over the market from the villagers, the real owners.
“It became so serious in the past that our women blocked the Airport Road to push home our demand that the market be spared. This is the only market we sell our farm products,” said the spokesman. “We cannot fold our hands and watch somebody take over our inheritance and property.
“The government has indirectly told us to leave because of the several interests putting pressure on us. With community efforts, we have been able to resist the pressure, but we also know that there is a limit to our resistance. If they come with armed security agents and bulldozers, we cannot fight them defenselessly,” he said.