Market closure:Northern traders sue Enugu govt, demand N50bn

Ihuoma Chiedozie

Traders in the New Artisan Market, otherwise referred to as Goat Market, Enugu, have asked a Federal High Court in the state to order the state government to pay them the sum of N50bn as damages for the closure of the market.

The majority of the traders in the market are livestock dealers from the North.

The Enugu State Government had, on December 19, ordered the traders to vacate their shops and living quarters in the market after a policeman, one Corporal Gabriel Ugwu of the Anti-Cult Unit of the Enugu State Police Command, was killed by a mob reportedly made up of tricycle riders.

The policeman was lynched while trying to arrest some leaders of the tricycle riders union, who operate within the market.

Following the development, the Enugu State House of Assembly, in a resolution on December 20, ordered the relocation of the market from Enugu metropolis to another area.

The lawmakers asked the state government to erect a housing estate on the site of the market.

The Northern People’s Community in Enugu, whose members were mostly affected by the development, had appealed to Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi to reopen the market.

However, the matter has taken a new turn as the traders have dragged the state government before an Enugu Federal High Court in a fundamental rights enforcement suit.

In the suit —Alhaji Adamu Maiwa and two others versus the Attorney-General of Enugu State and two others— which was filed on January 6, the traders demanded the sum of N50bn as “exemplary, punitive, aggravated, special and general damages” for the closure of the market.

The traders filed the suit in conjunction with an Enugu-based human rights group, Civil Rights Realisation and Advancement Network, headed by Barrister Olu Omotayo.

The Commissioner of Police, Enugu State and the Inspector General of Police were listed alongside the Attorney-General of Enugu State as respondents in the suit.

In addition to the N50bn sought as damages, the traders asked the court to declare as illegal, the order given to them by Enugu State Government on December 19 to vacate their shops and homes in the market within 48 hours.

The court was also asked to declare that the deployment of policemen by the state government, to force them out of the market and deny them access to the place, was unconstitutional.

Maiwa added that the closure of the market had subjected the applicants to untold hardship.

According to him, some of the traders have relocated to the North.

Post a Comment