June 10, 2023

The Ebonyi State Government has finally commenced the demolition of Building Material Market in Abakaliki, the state capital.

Traders woke up on Monday to discover that the State Government had begun demolition of their shops at the market.

The State Government had given them until February 28 to relocate from the market an ultimatum most of the traders ignored.

By the time they got to the market, it was surrounded by a combined security agencies both the military and police officers as well as agents of the State Government supervising the demolition. Also, bulldozers brought in by the government had already started demolition of some of the shops in the market.

The traders were seen running around to remove their belongings from the shops to avoid being damaged by the bulldozers.

They lamented that government should have given them more time since the new site has not been completed.

They further argued that the forceful eviction will expose them to more hardships because government did not put any form of security in the new site.

Our Correspondent on a visit to the market saw the traders running helter-skelter trying to evacuate their goods while government officials were busy demolishing some of the shops.

Security agents were also stationed at strategic locations of the market.

One of the affected traders, Mr. Obasi Chukwudi, confirmed that government gave them quit notice.

He, however, noted that they never knew the government will move in immediately to evict them as the new site has not been completed.

“Government gave us order to pack out of this place to the new site but we didn’t know it was urgent because we thought they will give us time to prepare ourselves.

They gave us till March 1st and we thought they will give us extension of one week. Secondly, the new site has no wall, no security, no motorable road, and even the buildings have not been completed.

“It will not only affect us but our families are affected. Government should give us one week,” he pleaded.

Another trader, Mr. Okwudiri Uche, said the government took them unawares because they never knew government will start demolition immediately.

“We came to market this morning only to see that security agencies have blocked the entrance of the market and stopped our movement and business transactions.”

“We never knew government will start today being 1st March. My shop has been demolished. Government should give us more time to finish the new site.”

Mrs. Eze Ugwu described the government’s action as terrible and unexpected.

“Our condition is so terrible; we never expected this kind of thing because we have been asking government since to give us time. Nothing has been done in the new site. We all see how COVID-19 affected our businesses.

“Somebody that has 7 children and you pursue her, what do you expect her to do. What do you expect the condition of somebody who ran from Northern region to Ebonyi to do? Now they said nobody should stay on the street or on the road to sell that means they want us to die,” she lamented.

It was gathered that some of the state government officials at the gate were extorting between N10,000 to N20,000 from the traders for staying beyond government stipulated time.

But Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Dr. Kenneth Ugbala, denied knowledge of the said extortion. “I am not aware of the extortion but I will call them on phone now,” he said.

The Special Assistant to the Governor on Special Projects, Richard Idike, said such collection is illegal.

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