Over 400 business owners at the now-demolished Area 7 Shopping Complex in Abuja have written a petition to the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Nyemsom Wike, calling for punitive measures for government officials who authorized and oversaw the alleged illegal demolition.
Through their lawyer, Senior Advocate of Nigeria Mr. Chukwuma-Machukwu Ume, the displeased traders of the shopping complex wrote to the FCT Minister pleading with him to fire all FCTA personnel involved in the destruction of Area 7 Shopping Complex in Garki Abuja.
Additionally, the merchants called for Abuja Investment Company Ltd. to be stripped of its authority to operate the markets in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), claiming that the company had no intention of expanding into new areas and solely had a consumption-based mindset.
The petitioners claim that after the illegal demolition of the shopping center, property belonging to the Federal Capital Development Authority worth billions of Naira was destroyed, carried away, and left unaccounted for.
Following the moves to demolish the complex, the traders dragged the FCT, FCDA, and Urban Shelter to court in 2021, and on December 2021, the court ordered parties to maintain status quo.
They alleged that despite the court’s interim order, the Urban Shelter and the Abuja Metropolitan Management Council disregarded it by ferrying in about 30 armed thugs who were disguised as Nigerian Police officers by wearing fake uniforms, badges, and masked to conceal their identity.
They told Wike that Urban Shelter, Abuja Investment Company Ltd. and Abuja Metropolitan Management Council had commenced erection of structures in the illegally demolished shops, despite that the new structures were contrary to the Abuja Master Plan.
The High Court of the Federal Capital Territory had on the 24th last month, made another order restraining the defendants from going on with any construction of shops as well as the allocation of shops in that Area 7 Shopping Complex, Garki, Abuja.
The letter stated that the immediate past FCT Minister was not well guarded on the need to adhere to the FCT Master Plan and some of the public servants of the FCTA took advantage of these lapses and flaunted the orders of the court.
Writing by Ifeoma Nwovu; Editing by Jennifer Ogor and Daniel Adejo