On the morning of Saturday July 3, 2021, the day bulldozers visited Lugbe, turning shops to wasteland, Amanda Peter was home waiting for the rain to subside so she could go to work. Then she received a phone call that demolition was taking place and the bulldozers were approaching her salon. Before she could get there, her source of livelihood had been destroyed.
Madam Peter, who is from Omala Local Government Area (LGA) of Kogi State, North-central Nigeria, is a degree holder from Nasarawa State Polytechnic. She had set up the salon in 2018 with support from her parents. This was to enable her fend for herself and support her aging parents.
“I couldn’t even recognise my space anymore. My container had been torn apart by a bulldozer. My two hair dryers were gone. My washers, chairs were nowhere to be found. Pieces of my buckets were on the ground,” Amanda recalled.
The Chairman, Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Ministerial Committee on City Sanitation, Ikharo Attah, said that the demolition was “necessitated by the desire of the administration to enhance security of lives and properties in Abuja.” Also, that the operation was carried out with the approval of the Federal Capital Development Agency (FCDA).
The Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) Director of Security Services, Adamu Gwary, in a report vowed that the administration “would not fold its hands and watch criminals overrun the city.”
Madam Amanda said the action of the government is a clear indication that they care less about the welfare of common people. Also, that they are rather encouraging more crime and violence by clamping down on people’s businesses without prior notice and compensation.
No notice given
Praise Momoh, a father of three, sold fruits and foodstuff behind a fence before his shop was demolished. He told HumAngle that it was very “tragic and shocking to wake up and lose all you have to cater for the family in minutes, especially when no notice was given beforehand.”
Momoh added: “And no one is talking about compensation or plans for another location for us.”
“The security personnel watched our goods being looted. Some were even threatening us with daggers as we battled to get our goods from them, but the task force turned a blind eye and focused on just displacing us.”
“The government is not ready to help you and would still come to wrongfully take what you legitimately own.”
Another victim, Mama Blessing, who ran a food canteen was able to move most of her goods to a nearby location before the bulldozers got to her container.
“I pleaded with them not to crush my goods so I could still use the steel and they agreed,” Mama Blessing said.
Like several others, she and her husband had to wrestle touts for control over their goods. She added: “As the containers were falling, touts were moving it and you’d have to come and bail it with a minimum of N5,000.”
“Before the demolition, I sold all varieties of food ranging from swallows (such as pounded yam akpu), beans, rice and dodo. Even if I wasn’t making so much profit because of the hike in the cost of goods in the market, we were able to keep the family together,” she explained.
“The demolition may expose nearby residents to more attacks. We don’t understand what the government is set to achieve with actions that frustrate the common man trying to make ends meet in spite of the government’s failure. The fence demarcating the roads was built to mark the separation and even while we stayed behind the fence, they came and demolished our shops,” Madam Blessing lamented.
Residents are scared
One of the residents who pleaded anonymity, told HumAngle that there is the likelihood of an increase in crime, especially theft and robbery by boys who were sleeping behind the fence before the demolition.
“With the way those boys looted right before the task force and military and nothing was done, it would only get worse,” he said.
Mr Usman, another resident, shared his experience: “Yesterday, when I woke up around 5 a.m. to start cooking, I heard sounds of someone breaking into a nearby shop and I raised an alarm which forced the thieves to escape. They abandoned their sacks containing pressing irons, and television screens.”
Authorities fail to react
Efforts made by Humangle in reaching authorities to confirm the claims by the shop owners yielded no positive results.
HumAngle reached out to FCTA, and a staff directed us back to FCT Development Control as the appropriate authority to interface on matters touching on demolition in Abuja. The Director FCT Development Control, through one of the officers, directed HumAngle back to the media aide of the FCT minister.
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