No fewer than one thousand traders at the popular Abakaliki Building Materials Market have been forcefully ejected from the premises following the state government’s directive to demoliah the area.
But the development has caused untold hardship to some of the traders who felt that they were caught unaware.
Daily Trust gathered that the state government had earlier issued a vacation notice to the traders just as it urged them to relocate to the permanent site that is yet to be completed.
The grace period given by the state government expired on 28 February, 2021.
Our Correspondent, who was at the market on Monday, observed that some sections have been demolished while some traders were busy packing their belongings.
Also, armed security men comprising policemen and soldiers blocked one side of the lane, thereby causing heavy traffic in the area.
In the attempt to save their goods from been demolished, Mr Obasi (second name withheld), who spoke to Daily Trust, said that some of them paid N20,000 at the two entrance gate to agents before they were allowed to leave with their remaining goods.
“Actually, the government gave us 28 February,2021 but we never knew it will be so urgent like this because the new site has not been completed.
“Again, the agents sent by the state government collected N20,000, some N10,000 depending on the size of your goods before they will allow you cross the gate,” he explained.
Other traders like Mr Okwudiri Uche, Mrs Eze Ugwu and Mrs Eze Ugwu described the development as terrible.
“Our condition is so terrible, we never expected this kind of thing because we have been asking government since to give us time.
“Nothing has been done in the new site. We all saw how COVID-19 affected our businesses. We have so many children to take care of,” one of them stated.
When contacted, the Secretary to the state government, Dr Kenneth Ugbala, denied the alleged extortion by agents of the state.
“I am not aware of the extortion but I will call them on phone now,” he said.
On his part, the Special Assistant to the governor on Project, Mr Richard Idike, said: “Nobody should give anybody money.”