THE Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) demolished the UTC shopping complex in Area 10, Abuja, on Saturday, June 3.
UTC, one of the most popular shopping centres in the FCT, is widely regarded as the major hub for various forms of printing and allied businesses in the nation’s capital.
Traders at the trading complex allege that there was no prior notice of demolition, although they had been instructed to move into an incomplete structure nearby for the remodelling of the market.
Chairman of the Traders Union at the market Bright Nnanna accused the FCTA of not carrying traders and stakeholders along in its plans to remodel the market and described the alternative structure provided as inhabitable.
“Fuel subsidy has just been removed. Where do you expect people to turn to? This is not a government that has the people at heart,” Nnanna said.
Another trader Hussaina Raji was spotted trying to salvage what was left of her property from the rubble. She described the demolition exercise as inhumane.
“I own shop C10 here. This is where I do my business, this is where I feed my family from. I was not informed that they are coming. They feel less concerned because they are not affected. They still have the guts to arrest a person in this situation. That is inhumane! They are not being fair to us,” she said.
Chairman Shop Owners Association in the market, Godfrey Ojarikre, said they had filed a case against the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) in court, and parties involved were ordered to maintain the status quo.
He said the FCT minister, Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA), Abuja Investment Company, and real estate development company Urban Shelter, among others, were co-defendants in the suit.
“The matter is already in court. All the parties were duly served. There was no notice whatsoever. We built these shops with our own money, and the government did not even bother to invite us for once to any meeting for dialogue,” Ojarikre said.
He alleged that the real estate development company, Urban Shelter, played a pivotal role in the demolition of the market, as the organisation was interested in remodelling the market.
“Bala Abdullahi Kwato, the Director, Infrastructure with Urban Shelter, is the one behind all these. The day he wrote a petition against some of our men to the Zone 7 Police Station, that is when we sensed that this type of thing will happen one day,” Ojarikre added.
The ICIR reached out to Urban Shelter over the allegations, but the company’s phone lines did not connect until this report was filed.
Efforts to reach the Senior Special Assistant on Monitoring, Inspection and Enforcement to the FCT Minister Ikharo Attah were unsuccessful, as he did not respond to calls until press time.
In April, traders at the market staged protests at the Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) and the FCTA secretariats against the planned demolition of the market.