Hundreds of shop owners in Dei-Dei International Market in AMAC, FCT Abuja, wept openly on Tuesday as bulldozers of the Federal Capital Development Authority (Development Control) went to work.
The Development Control field officers had marked the affected shops for demolition, but there was no clear notice that the shops would be demolished anytime soon, eyewitnesses said.
There was little time for the traders, most of them Igbo, to evacuate goods from their shops when the bulldozers arrived. Accordingly, goods worth more than N2billion were destroyed along with the shops.
Most affected were shops on either side of a road that leads to a first-generation bank by the side of Timber Market.
Onlookers bemoaned the fate of millions of Nigerians subjected to persecution even in the face of unprecedented level of unemployment and economic depression. “What plan does this government have for people who are struggling to survive?” asked Casmir Ochendo, a trader. “They can’t give people jobs and when frustrated jobseekers start businesses, government kills the businesses through taxes or demolition of shops.”
The effect of the FCDA’s action is likely to show in increased rate of criminal activities in Abuja. Demolition of people’s homes and business premises, started 11 years ago during the tenure of Nasir el-Rufai as FCT minister, has solved little problem: Some of the affected places have been re-allocated to the rich and the powerful, but many have been left fallow since then. Millions of Nigerians, mainly Igbo, have been left homeless; hundreds of victims have died as a result.