Some traders said they were not given enough time to move their things.
Some traders, who were affected by Friday’s demolition of Karu Market, Abuja, said that the 21-day notice given to them to relocate had not expired before the market’s demo1lition.
The traders told the News Agency of Nigeria at the site on Saturday that the market was demolished barely 12 days after the notice was issued.
The allegation came amid reports by traders and witnesses that some hoodlums took advantage of the situation to loot affected shops.
Amechi Ani, a goat meat seller, alleged that whereas the 21-day notice was issued on November 7, the demolition was carried out around 8 a.m. on Friday, November 15.
“When the officials came on Friday morning, they gave us just one hour to pack our goods. They didn’t even allow us to move our things before the exercise began.
“Many people lost their goods in the process, including a female rice dealer, who fainted because she was unable to secure her goods before they got to her shop,” he said.
Kingsley Ekene, a student of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, corroborated Mr. Amechi’s story.
Mr. Ekene, who said that he was assisting his brother, a frozen food dealer in the market, stressed that some traders lost valuable goods such as bags of rice and semovita as well as generators to the looters.
“This is unfair; they should have at least allowed us to remove our goods from the shops and secure them before embarking on the demolition,” he said.
However, Suleiman Halliru, the Chairman of Karu Market Traders Association, debunked the traders’ claim that the exercise began before the expiration of the notice.
He said that a 72-hour notice was given to the traders and not 21 days as some traders alleged, adding that the information was aptly transmitted to the traders before the deadline.
“Actually, we were adequately informed by the government through a 72-hour notice, which expired on Nov. 7.
“As the association’s chairman, I made sure the notice was well circulated to all the traders and we even held a general meeting where we deliberated on the matter.
“Some of the traders complied and moved their goods out before the demolition yesterday (Friday) but the affected ones were those who tried to be obstinate,” Halliru said.
In his reaction, Kalu Emetu, the Public Relations Officer, Abuja Metropolitan Management Council, said that prior to the demolition, the traders were given ample time to remove their wares.
“The market was supposed to have been demolished on Wednesday, the traders were given two more days (Wednesday and Thursday), and the demolition was carried out on Friday,” he said.
Mr. Emetu said that the government decided to demolish the market because it was causing serious obstruction to traffic, especially on market days.