At least one person was reportedly killed yesterday in a clash between Hausa traders and the Delta State Capital Territory Development Agency (DSCTDA) Taskforce over the demolition of makeshift stalls at the Hausa-dominated Abraka Market.
Our correspondent gathered that as soon as Governor Ifeanyi Okowa eased the lockdown, the DSCTDA Taskforce stormed the popular commodity market to commence demolition of the ramshackled market, but were stiffly resisted by a band of traders, who were mainly Hausa.
The situation degenerated into a violent free-for-all fight, compelling a combined team of security agents, who escorted the taskforce to shoot sporadically into the air, hitting one of the traders to death, while scores sustained various degrees of injuries.
Director-General of the DSCTDA, Mrs. Joan Mrakpor told journalists at a press briefing that her office had formally served notice on the traders three months ago to relocate from the present market location popularly known as Abraka Market.
The market sources said the Hausa traders were particularly miffed by the decision of the authorities to relocate them to flood-prone Oko Community in the outskirts of Asaba, overlooking the River Niger.
“We rejected the new relocation area because of the deplorable state of the environment. It is a swamp and muddy terrain, prone to flooding during the rainy season.
“In fact, the environment becomes worse and particularly bad for businesses as flood menace is a recurring decimal and goods are swept away into River Niger during the rains.
“We were shocked this morning when some persons came to the market while we were about to restart our businesses after the government relaxed the nearly two months market lockdown because of the coronavirus pandemic. Suddenly they started shooting into the air, destroying the market.
“Most of the Hausa traders were angry and blocked the road to prevent the task force from demolishing the market. It was in the process one person was shot dead and others were arrested”, a market source recounted.
The fracas culminated in a traffic gridlock on the ever-busy Benin-Onitsha expressway and compelled a heavy presence of anti-riot Police squad, Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Immigration Officers, and officials of the Federal Roads Safety Corps (FRSC).
Reacting to the restiveness, Police Public Relations Officer in the state, DSP Onome Onovwakpoyeya, said, “I have not gotten an official report. I was called this morning that there was a protest. It is not as if I am not aware but I cannot answer until our men brief us on what happened, why it happened, and what they have done so far”.
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