Lives were lost, assets and property worth millions of naira were destroyed, just as shops were also looted as business owners, commercial motorbike riders and street urchins are faced at the Dei-Dei international market. The violence has shaken Abuja to its core, Olawale Ajimotokan reports
The Dei-Dei International Market is considered one of the largest independent building materials markets in Nigeria. The bustling market is located beside the Inner Northern road known as the Zuba-Kubwa highway.
This is a unique market where building and construction materials in Abuja including timber and timber can be purchased in affordable and large quantities.
However, on May 18, trading activities in the market were halted after traders and commercial motorcyclists, known as Okada bikers, clashed after a woman was killed in an accident.
The violence justified FCT Minister Mohammad Musa Bello to order the indefinite closure of the market.
On that fateful day, tempers flared after the passenger, who was heading towards Dutsen Alhaji in Bwari Regional Council, collided with a motorbike and was crushed to death by an oncoming articulated vehicle. Kubwa highway.
The death of the woman, identified as Bukky, sparked uproars in the Dei-Dei stamp market and surrounding markets.
The commotion escalated when angry passers-by burned the motorbike.
The other bikers in solidarity with their colleague launch reprisals which lead to a fight and inevitably a large-scale riot.
The situation was then hijacked by thugs, who took advantage of the chaos to loot by burning down rows of shops and sheds filled with boards, stamps and other building materials. Many vehicles parked nearby were also set on fire.
It was a day that residents of Dei-Dei and its surroundings and visitors caught in the web of rage will never forget.
News of the riot also rippled across social media, giving the impression that it was an inter-tribal feud between Igbo traders and mainly Hausa trade motorbike operators and their sympathizers.
Apart from paralyzing commercial activities in the market, the riot disrupted traffic along the Kubwa highway after police officers mobilized to prevent the crisis from escalating, set up a roadblock which resulted in an accumulation of traffic for almost 15 kilometers from Dei-Dei to the end of Katampe. of the road.
Many traders lamented that they suffered huge losses from the riot. One of the victims, Obiora Nnaemeka, said he lost wooden goods worth millions of naira in the scuffle.
In his own account, the secretary of the Dei-Dei Market Tomato and Onion Sellers Association, Dahiru Garba Mani, said four people were killed by the thugs during the riots. He said the victims died from gunshot wounds inflicted by the attackers.
Timber Shed Market Vice President Ifeanyi Chibata also said between 45 and 50 stores were set on fire while 25 vehicles were torched during the riot.
Chibata said industrial machinery and eight trailers of glued plywood that had been unloaded two days before the unrest were among the valuables razed by the fire.
He estimated that the total value of the planks and building materials that were destroyed in the fire was over N1 billion.
“Two Okadas trying to maneuver each other collided and unfortunately the woman who was on the back of one of the bikes fell and a trailer rolled over her head and she died instantly.
“Immediately the accident happened, a motorbike was burned and other Okadas started gathering, harassing people and stirring up trouble. In the aftermath, one of them was killed. We called the road safety people. They answered and chose the dead and those who were also injured. Another corpse of a person from Okada was picked up and brought to the market because the ambulance could not take him away.
“All of a sudden, people from Okada were everywhere. The woman who was killed had no identification. We even searched her to see if she had a phone, but she didn’t.
“It was later that a man from Okada came and said that he was the one who had brought the loads the woman was taking home. He was the one who confirmed that the woman was from Dutsen and that she brought these loads home.
“So it was when they saw that we had taken these people off the road that Okada operators gathered here,” said Chibata, who has been selling at Dei-Dei for more than 25 years.
FCT Minister Musa Bello who, following the crisis, called an emergency security meeting with FCT Command Police Commissioner Babaji Sunday and DSS FCT Command Director Alhaji Ado Muazu was fiercely disagreed with the insinuation that the crisis had an ethnic overtone.
He then led a delegation, including Commissioner of Police, Chairman of Abuja City Council (AMAC), Abdulahi Adamu Candido, AMAC Deputy Chairman, Lawrence Onuchukwu, Chief of Jiwa Chiefdom, Alhaji Musa Idris, the Permanent Secretary of the FCT, Mr. Olusade Adesola and other political leaders to the affected communities.
“I met with market leaders and community leaders. I also met with the political leaders represented by the chairman and vice chairman of the AMAC regional council in Abuja and what really came out very clearly was that this was an accident that happened. happened, unfortunately when a lady on a commercial motorcycle fell, and I think, a vehicle ran her over and unfortunately she died.
“I appeal to other communities within the FCT not to have any tribal or religious misunderstandings as all the leaders of the different communities have been living here in peace for many years. It’s just the fact that criminals and thugs are taking the laws into their own hands,” he said.
He also urged the community and market leaders to pick up the thugs who were carrying guns and indiscriminately shooting innocent people, describing the episode as very sad and completely unacceptable.
The Minister directed the leaders of the FCT community to identify miscreants, drug dealers, drug dens and drinking places where crime and criminality were taking place in the territory, as the police and the military do not couldn’t be everywhere simultaneously.
“As community leaders, you have to identify everyone who is causing confusion here, whether they are Gbagyi, Fulani, Igbo, Hausa, Gwandara – whether they are from anywhere because you are the people who know them , their fathers, where they sleep. and where they are staying. So after that, we’ll be back to take stock, but in the meantime, we’ll also try to see that justice is done for those who have lost their loved ones. I already told the police commissioner what to do.
“This whole place is going to be locked down and for the next two to three days no market activity here until we sort it out. And after that we will see which market will open and under what conditions, including all the shops and markets from the main expressway to this lane,” Bello said.
He instructed the market leaders to instill disciples in the markets, adding that Dei-Dei was one of the most peaceful places in the FCT until all sorts of grudges started happening due to the apathy of the rulers, who have outsourced their responsibility for young people without meaningful economic activities, apart from drug trafficking and other vices.
For his part, Sunday said it was an accident that worsened the crisis in the market.
The police commissioner called on community and market leaders to always find ways to resolve community disputes before things get out of hand. He also urged all residents and members of the affected community to maintain law and order.
Quotation“I appeal to other communities within the FCT not to have any tribal or religious misunderstandings as all the leaders of the different communities have been living here in peace for many years. It’s just the problem of criminals and thugs taking the law into their own hands.”