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Wuse Market shooting: Punish perpetrators, pay compensation

Penultimate Tuesday, the bustling Wuse Market in Abuja, was abruptly thrust into chaos. The peace and tranquility that usually enveloped this commercial hub were shattered…

Penultimate Tuesday, the bustling Wuse Market in Abuja, was abruptly thrust into chaos. The peace and tranquility that usually enveloped this commercial hub were shattered by a violent incident that left a trail of destruction and loss. Hoodlums, fueled by frustration and anger, took the law into their hands, revealing a disturbing lack of professionalism among our security forces.

The catalyst for this unfortunate turn of events was the arrest of a hawker, 27-year-old Ibrahim Yahaya, by a local “task force.” Tried and swiftly sentenced by a Mobile Court within the market, Yahaya’s fate took a tragic twist during his transfer to prison. Desperate to escape, he attempted to leap from the moving vehicle. In response, a correctional service officer fired a fatal shot, ending Yahaya’s life. The repercussions were immediate and explosive.

Enraged by the killing, a mob surged towards the nearby police station. Their fury knew no bounds as they shattered windows, set cars ablaze, and targeted both a police van and a correctional facility. The flames consumed not only vehicles but also the livelihoods of countless traders. Ten shops were reduced to ashes and eight vehicles lay charred. The financial toll, measured in millions of naira, was staggering.

This incident was avoidable. Had our security personnel exercised greater restraint and exhibited some level of professionalism, the chaos might have been averted.

But Yahaya Ibrahim’s case is not an isolated one. Brazen acts of impunity plague our law enforcement agencies—be it the military, navy, air force, police, or customs. The trust between civilians and those sworn to protect them hangs in the balance.

As a nation, we must demand accountability and reform. Our security forces must undergo rigorous training, emphasizing professionalism, empathy, and respect for human life. The Wuse market tragedy serves as a stark reminder that every life matters, and justice must prevail without resorting to violence.

The Abuja Market Management Limited (AMML) closed Wuse Market temporarily to assess the damage and restore order. On Friday, March 15th, at noon, the market reopened—a symbol of resilience and hope. But mere reopening is not enough. We call on the authorities to institute comprehensive reforms, ensuring that incidents like this do not occur in future.

In the aftermath of this dark day, it is imperative to demand change.  Wuse market should be rebuilt, not just physically, but also in spirit—a place where safety, commerce, and trust co-exist harmoniously. Our collective resolve can transform tragedy into progress, and together, we can reclaim the peace that was so brutally disrupted. We call for a thorough investigation into this matter and all those found culpable must be punished according to the law.

Furthermore, efforts should be made to compensate those who lost items in the fracas. Sadly, reports of impunity among uniformed personnel continue to plague our nation. Recent incidents, such as the killing of 11 Fulani men in Tuldefulbe, Ladugga, Kachia Local Government Area of Kaduna State on January 11, 2023, allegedly by the military, remain etched in our collective memory. Equally disturbing is the case of Mr Ubi Ebri, who lost his life on the Ugbolu-Illah road in Asaba on April 5, 2023, after allegedly refusing to pay a bribe of N100 to a police officer. These events underscore the urgent need for accountability and reform within our law enforcement agencies.

Data independently gathered by this newspaper (reported cases in various newspapers across the country) reveals a grim reality: from January 2023 to the present, 41 lives have been lost, and 26 individuals have been injured across the country due to various circumstances stemming from the misconduct of law enforcement personnel or government agents. Families have been torn apart, livelihoods shattered, and trust eroded. It is a toll that cannot be ignored.

We call upon the government to take decisive action. Investigations into human rights abuses must be thorough and transparent. Those responsible for breaching individual rights must face consequences. Families that have lost loved ones at the hands of overzealous personnel deserve compensation and closure. Justice delayed is justice denied so, we cannot afford further delays.

Our law enforcement personnel—whether military, navy, air force, police, or customs officers—must undergo comprehensive training and retraining. Proper engagement with the civilian population requires more than mere enforcement; it demands respect for citizens’ rights. We envision a future where security forces protect and serve without compromising the very principles they swore to uphold.

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