The popular Kuje Forest Market along the Kuje-Gwagwalada Road is one of the vibrant markets in the area council, with traders, especially farmers from rural communities, coming with their farm produce to sell, but it has now turned into a hoodlums’ den.
Aso Chronicle learnt that the market which holds every four days is named forest market because of the beechwood (gmelina arborea) trees which were planted by the FCT Agricultural Secretariat during a 1987 tree planting campaign by the military administration of Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida when Air Commodore Hamza Abdullahi was the Minister of the FCT.
It was gathered that the forest market witnessed an influx of traders when construction of new shops was going on at the main market close to the council secretariat. Traders who sell fairly used clothes, provisions and electronics erected kiosks in the forest and some of them even slept inside their batcher shops.
However, Forest Market has today turned into a hoodlums’ hideout, where they take advantage of the forest to engage in all sorts of criminal activities.
Aso Chronicle learnt that the hoodlums attack people at night, snatch phones and motorcycles; rape women, smoke and sell Indian hemp.
Further investigation revealed that the hoodlums, after committing crimes in the metropolis, run to hide in the market.
A trader in the market who simply identified himself as Umar said there were over 15 batchers in the market and that the hoodlums usually broke into them to steal.
Umar said he lived at Anguwar Gede in the area but that after thieves broke into his shop he decided to be sleeping in the shop.
Another trader who identified himself as Yahuza said the challenge most traders who owned shops in the market faced was vandalisation of kiosks and theft.
Yahuza said, “These hoodlums smoke Indian hemp here and when you warn them they will come after you.”
He said despite the fact that security agents always raided the market and made arrests, the hoodlums always attacked people at night.
A resident close to Forest Market, Francis Agbedo Chukwuma, said the forest had become a criminal hideout, and that the hoodlums scaled fences to steal, and added that, “Government should take urgent steps over the activities of hoodlums in the forest market, especially now that there is security alert about Boko Haram terrorists establishing camps in some forests across the FCT.”
Aso Chronicle also reliably gathered that the Department of State Services (DSS) and the police had written to the authorities of the council on the need for it to take over the forest market due to criminal activities.
The Chairman of Kuje Area Council, Abdullahi Suleiman Sabo, said the council was also worried about the activities of hoodlums in the forest market.
Sabo confirmed that, “The council actually received letters from the police and the DSS advising that we take over the forest market because of criminal activities in it.”
He said the council had written to the FCT Administration (FCTA) to seek approval to take over the forest market in order to put viable government structures there.