- The minister of the Federal Capital Territory is under fire for closing the Dei-Dei Timber Market while commercial motorcyclists continue to operate after the incident that led to the killing of people and burning of shops
- HURIWA accused Mohammed Bello of being partial by closing the market while allowing the motorcylists to continue operation despite being a party to the crisis on Wednesday, May 18
- According to HURIWA, the minister should either reopen the maket and find way to rebuild it or ban the operation of bike men in the are as well
The Human Rights Writers' Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has accused the minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mohammed Bello, of operating an apartheid system by shutting down the Dei-Dei International Timber market over the clash between traders and Okada (motorcycle) riders in the area on Wednesday, May 18.
Reacting to the closure of the market over the clash that led to the burning shops and destruction of property by the commercial motorcylists, the association urged the minister to reopen the maket and find way to rebuild it.
Condmening the fact the the market remains closed down while the Okada riders who are mainly from Niger Republic continue with their daily activities, HURIWA called for a ban on operations of the commercial motorcylists in the area.
A statement by Emmanuel Onwubiko, the director-general of the association called on the minister to eith re-open the market or ban the okada riders in Deidei and Kubwa for justice, equity and fairness.
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Onwubiko said it is offensive to the principle of natural justice that two parties were involved in a fracas but the authority rather than make peace and create harmony and reconciliation decided to back one of the combatants because of religious motive.
He said said the role of a minister of the FCT is that of service without bitterness or sectionalism since ministers are appointed for all of Nigeria.
The statement read in part:
“We do not want to believe that it is true that the FCT minister who is a Nigerian will adopt controversial and unnatural steps that offends the commercial interests of his fellow citizens.
"And let off the motor cyclists who are largely illegal aliens from Niger Republic, Chad and just a sprinkling of Muslim Northern Nigerians only because traders at Dei Dei market that fought with Okada riders are mostly Igbos from southern Nigeria and are Christians by faith Orientation."
HURIWA called on President Muhammadu Buhari who constitutionally is the governor of FCT to ask his subordinate the FCT minister to adopt solution that would not be seen as favouring a party in a fight by two parties.
According to HURIWA, it is not acceptable that one party in the matter is favoured only because they are almost 100 per cent Muslims share same faith system with the minister.
Adding that leadership is not to bow to religious or ethnic sentiments, HURIWA warned that a leader must be altruistic, nationalistic, just, fair and equitable in all situation with his people.
It warned that the FCT minister who has worked harmoniously with peoples of all faith systems and ethnicity for years, should not now be remotely connected to this sort of story of open but shameful partiality and crude biasness.
HURIWA has asked the minister to rescind his decision which is offensive to constitutionalism, equity, fairness and equality before the law of natural justice and respect to human rights of all.
Tension in Abuja as traders, okada riders clash, 5 People feared killed
A clash between some traders and motorcycle riders in Dei-Dei International Timber Market had reportedly left about five people dead.
The individuals were killed during the attack which resulted after an Okada rider's passenger was crushed to death by a moving trailer.
According to residents of the area, houses and properties including some shops in the timber market have been set ablaze.
FCT minister visits Dei-Dei Timber Market, makes assessment
However, while visiting the scene of the incident on Thursday, May 19, the minister ordered the closure of the market.
Bello also order the community and market leaders to fish out hoodlums and bad eggs among them while stating that it is unfortunate that hoodlums now carry arms and shoot at innocent people.
Stating that he saw four corpses after the incident that led to the burning of shops in the market, the minister said it has been agreed that security agencies would launch a full scale investigations on the matter.
"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 along the road that have clustered it and made it unpassable will all stop untill the technical team reviews everything, and then we will take the next decision."
Officials of Dei-Dei timber market reacts
On his part, the vice chairman of timber shed market Dei-Dei, Ifeanyi Chibata informed the minister and his team that about 45 to 50 shops were burnt with 25 vehicles set ablaze during the unrest.
The secretary tomato and onion sellers association Dei-Dei, Dahiru Garba Mani disclosed that four persons were killed during the clash in the market.
They both appealed to the minister of FCT to make provision for a police division with adequate personnel.