The Abuja Environment Protection Board (AEPB) has cleared the refuse dump at the Federal Secretariat Complex, a week after PREMIUM TIMES reported the eyesore and slum within it.
The AEPB had cleared most of the heap of refuse at the time PREMIUM TIMES visited on Tuesday but the informal market and squatters in the abandoned buildings remained in place.
PREMIUM TIMES also reported that the abandoned buildings had over the years accommodated many squatters who use the spot for residential and business purposes.
One of those who trade at the spot, Nanyit (not her real name) had told PREMIUM TIMES that the marketers paid monthly dues to the “authorities of the illegal market.”
“We have executives who maintain and liase with the ministries on our behalf so I pay for my little space. Our chairman is not around now, I would have pointed him to you.”
When contacted, AEPB’s acting director, Omolola Olanipekun said it is the responsibility of AEPB to ensure safe and sane environment for members of the society.
“AEPB does not clean inside the offices. Generators of waste should be responsible for wastes that are generated within their confines. But AEPB contractors will always pick up the waste and dump them accordingly,” she said.
She said “surveillance is also going on to monitor the activities of the abandoned buildings within the area.”
According to her, the ‘illegal market’ within the secretariat had been evacuated on different occasion but the squatters keep coming back.
“This is a market where drugs were being sold a few years back and which extended from the secretariat bridge to Nanet hotel and we removed them but the one in federal secretariat keeps coming back,” she said.
PREMIUM TIMES reporter sighted some documents, including a letter from the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation to the AEPB in the first quarter of 2017 directing the board to evacuate the abandoned building and also permits showing payment made by some traders to the ‘Federal Secretariat.’
Investigation revealed that AEPB indeed carried out evacuation as directed but officials of the board said the squatters returned after a while.
It is not clear to which authorities the traders made payments.
The spokesperson for AEPB, Muktar Ibrahim, said the union chairman of the traders confirmed they pay dues for the maintenance of the building.
When contacted on Friday, the executive secretary of the Federal Capital Development Authority, Umar Jibrin, said he could not react immediately.
He promised to discuss the matter with this newspaper next week.