..As Governor’s N4m escalates violence
By Achadu vGabriel, Kaduna
There was palpable tension and suspicion over the weekend at the Artisan market in Enugu north local government area of Enugu state following instruction by Governor Ifeany Ugwuanyi of Enugu state to ejects occupants of the market, predominantly Hausas, from the permanent site.
Trouble started when N4million was last Wednesday, released to Artisan’s chairman Yusuf Sambo, after a meeting with the governor for the evacuation of the over 16 years occupants of the popular Artisan marketers who alleged that they are being harassed and treated like animals.
Briefing our Correspondent in an interview, leaders of the Huasa community, revealed that Govenor Ugwuanyi convened a meeting with them last Wednesday and directed that occupants of the Artisan be relocated to a temporary site, sighting court Judgement delivered in favoured of a Citi Gas company as owner of the market land against one Alh Sani Mohammed and others doing cow business on portion of the land.
Our Correspondent was also informed that a day after the meeting with Governor Ugwuanyi, the market located at Enugu- Port Harcourt road, was invaded by bulldozers in company of security personnel and over 200 thugs for demolition without prior notice.
Speaking to our correspondent, an eyewitness and former Chairman of Artisan market, Alh Adamu Mayiwa said the demolition attempts was however met with stiff resistance by some unidentified youths who also sustained various degree of bullet injuries, including a woman who broke her hand for running aimlessly for their lives as result of sporadic gun shot by the police during the invasion.
The Market fence and main gate leading to the premises of permanent site was pulled down by the bulldozers, and some shops destroyed by the alleged Citi Gas company alleged induced demolition, who were later chased away and abandon their equipments, Maiywa Sani revealed.
Some passersby private car owners were also reportedly attacked during the fury, and their vehicles destroyed beyond repair by the rampaging youths on Thursday, a day after the meeting with the governor, according to the elderly man
Burnt and destroyed cars abandoned on the road, he said, pointing out that over fifthen police personnel vans deployed to restore normacy at the scene were still on ground till Friday afternoon when another crises erupted in which truck was set ablaze by the some irate youth, tyres were set on fire, as smoke rented the air causing business operators in the area to scampered at different directions for their safety and survival.
Adamu Mayiwa who took our reporter round the permanent and temporary sites of the Market graphically, talking about their four places of worship including a Jumat Mosque, lamented that “All of a sudden they had gun shoot repeated, causing scared and and made people to start running.
“A woman broke her hand while running for fear, a boy sustained bullet wound, and handset charger also allegedly sustained gunshot injured from Pump-action gun used”, they said.
“The next thing we saw is the bulldozers pulling down the fence and gate. We started talking within ourselves why the demolition when the Governor gave us two weeks when we discuss this land issue in government house with him yesterday”, they said.
According to Maiywa, the demolition action disregarded their Ramadam fasting period and was without enough noticed for everybody to including those living there with families to properly prepare and leave.
He also said that even though they cannot dragged with Governor or government, they’ve members with wives and children who cannot sleep outside under rain since there is no building structure in the temporary site given to also pay before using the “batchas” temporary shops.
Also speaking, the Secretary new Artisan market Mr Ismail illiyasu Abubakar told our reporter that he was even surprised over the words used by Governor Ugwuanyi during their meeting with him, saying that the former Governor, Chimaroke Nnamani cheated on some family (Citi Gas), by illegally collected their land and allocated them.
According to him, attempt to explained and showed the Governor Ugwuanyi the gazetted land and Citi Gas Company portion was rejected as the Governor, who said, “I don’t care, that the gazetted and allocation given to you people is invalid.
“The Governor is deliberately pursuing us. They’re maltreating us. If you go to places like Kano, Kaduna and other states in the north, you will discover that lgbos have a lots of billions of investment there but nobody harass them like the one they’re doing to us here now. They harass us like animals. Our people sleep outside like animals with rain beating them even though we’re observing fasting and they came with tear gass and started shooting.
All efforts made to speak to Chief press secretary to Enugu Governor through security officer claiming General and the executive secretary (ES) Muslim pilgrimage welfare board, were fruitless.
However, a vocal Hausa community leader, Alh Lawal Mohammed Ayavgah who confirmed the incident explained that, Enugu Governor, during the meeting, urged them to respect the court order and vacated the land.
He lamented that effort made to explained to the Governor during the meeting that Citi Gas company land is a small portion and different from the gazetted Artisans market land allocated to Hausa community and others during Governor chimaroke Nnamani administration, was cut short as Agwuanyi refused to allowed anybody to respond.
He further explained that the Citi Gas Company dragged only Alh Sani Mohammed, a founding fathers of the market and coy to court for failure to fulfil agreement entered into, for two years or so, to pay the Citi Gas company N600,00 on each cow sold, for leasing part of its land, located in front of Artisan land, to him.
“We did not know when government and Citi Gas went to court over land matters, neither the company ever complained of government taken over its land since 2005 and 2006 when the land was gazetted by government and allocated to people till now”,, he said.
On the N4 millions released to Hausa community leaders, Alh Lawal explained that even though the leaders and members don’t want to vacate the land, they collected the money out of fear or what he cout not understand?.
The chairman of the market was unavailable due injuries allegedly sustained as a result of attacks on him for advising occupants to parks afer collecting the money from the governor.
His advise who spoke to our Correspondent was however differ saying that the court judgement covered the who land and that notice had been given to them to relocated to temporary site, also adding that the governor did not give them any two weeks notice as claimed by some of their leaders.
Findings revealed that Artisan market was Officially gazetted and published by Enugu state government on 6th April 2006, but there’re vested State interest in the land as the governor reportedly told them that over 70 percent of Enugu statesmen supported ejection of Huasa community and others from the land. End