ABUJA — Commercial activities were disrupted on Wednesday in the popular Dei–Dei International Timber and Furniture Market in Bwari Area Council of Abuja, the Nations’ capital following a clash between commercial motorcyclists (Okada) and the traders.
The motorcycle riders allegedly invaded the market and set it ablaze following an altercation between them and the traders over a woman who fell from a motorcycle and was crushed by a trailer.
Following this development, the FCT Minister, Mohammad Bello, after inspecting the scene of the incident with FCT Commissioner of Police Sunday Babaji, Director of State Security Services, and other sister security agencies as well as top officials of the FCT Administration ordered the indefinite closure of the Market.
He directed the community and the market leaders to fish out the hoodlums responsible for the crisis.
Bello said that there was no tribal or religious misunderstanding because all the leaders of various communities have lived in peace for many years.
“This is simply the matter of criminals and hoodlums taking the laws into their own hands.
“We have agreed with security agencies that full-scale investigations will be done, and the communities have to be part and parcel of the solution or else there will be no peace.
“In the interim, the timber market and the surrounding markets, including all the activities that have clustered the road and made it unpassable, will all stop until the technical team reviews everything, and then we will take the next decision.”
“The community and market leaders must fish out hoodlums and bad eggs among them, unfortunately, this time around, hoodlums carry arms and they shoot innocent people.
“As a matter of fact, I saw four corpses. This is very sad and totally unequivocally unacceptable in Abuja,” he said.
The Vice Chairman, Timber Shed Market Dei-Dei, Ifeanyi Chibata told the minister and his team that 45 to 50 shops were burnt, with 25 vehicles set ablaze which total over one billion naira.
Also, the Secretary Tomato and Onion Sellers Association Dei-Dei, Dahiru Mani disclosed that four persons were killed during the clash in the market.
He appealed to the minister to ensure the provision of a police division with adequate personnel in the market.
One of the affected traders, Mr Moses Ejiofor, who claimed to have witnessed the accident, said the crisis started after a motorcycle carrying a woman ran into a trailer which crushed the victim.
He said the driver of the trailer refused to stop, which prompted people in the area to pursue him to Dei Dei Junction where he was caught.
Ejiofor said the motorcycle riders in the area mobilised to recover the motorcycle that was involved in the accident from the scene of the accident, but some people around who witnessed what happened refused to give them the motorcycle and set it ablaze.
“That was the beginning of the crisis, the motorcycle riders who were visibly angry went back and mobilized themselves from every direction they could penetrate and decided to set the timber shades on fire.
“Also, a particular plaza close to the timber market was also vandalized. What I have lost in the fire, I cannot evaluate it, because most of my goods inside the market were affected,” he said.
Another trader in one of the plazas, Chukwuemeka Okafor, said that a handful of soldiers who arrived at the scene on time were the ones that brought the crisis to control.
“But for now, everyone is where he or she can be safe. No fight presently, but the soldiers are on alert securing the building material shops, but the timber market was invaded from behind because timbers are highly inflammable and we were not happy that fire service could not come early, which led to the damage of the market.
“The goods that have gone down cannot be estimated at the moment. I cannot even access the area of the crisis, because the military has prevented any kind of movement. It is after the whole crisis, I will be able to know the damage done to my goods, but it is worth millions,” he said.
Meanwhile, the FCT police spokesperson, DSP Josephine Adeh said comprehensive deployment of tactical and intelligence assets of the command led by the commissioner of police, CP Babaji Sunday led to the return of peace in the area.
“Consequent upon the above, the police in a concerted effort with other state apparatus upon arrival at the scene, managed the uproar preventing further disintegration of law and Order,” she said.
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