Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Thug Violence: Despite promises, Abuja minister yet to approve our compensation: Traders

Mohammed Bello only raises a panel to appraise restitutions on Thursday.

, and • November 6, 2020

Traders in Apo mechanic village, a suburb of the Federal Capital Territory, have asked the government to redeem its pledge of compensating citizens who suffered losses when armed thugs attacked #EndSARS protests in the area a fortnight ago.

Dozens of shops, houses and auto marts were razed when a throng of assailants ran amok in the densely populated district of the country’s capital, leaving at least six reportedly killed on October 19.

FCT minister Mohammed Bello, who took a tour of the volatile area three days after, promised reparation for damages caused to affected persons.

FCT Minister Mohammed Musa Bello
FCT Minister Mohammed Musa Bello

Mr. Bello enthused that a committee had been promptly set up to work out modalities for compensation of genuine victims.

“We have seen the level of damage and I must admit that it is unfortunate. However, a committee has been set up to look at all the issues. Those who lost anything should approach the committee”, the minister said while encircled by residents who had lost their homes and means of livelihood.

“Compensations will be paid to those who have genuine cases. All the issues will be resolved as soon as possible”, Mr. Bello added, without immediately unveiling the members of the committee.

Abdulfatai Afolabi, a car dealer distraught with grief, told Peoples Gazette Thursday afternoon that the minister has yet to communicate the next line of action, two weeks after he publicly announced the establishment of a restitution panel.

Mr. Afolabi, whose firm A.A Abdul Motors took inventory of 18 burnt vehicles – with 25 others vandalised, wondered how such losses, which he noted were worth N75 million, would be recovered.

“Where do we get money to replace this loss?” Mr. Afolabi queried, while staring at the charred remains of his investments.

“The government said they had set up a committee, but we have not been invited or told anything since then. We don’t know who is in charge of the committee”, he stated.

On his part, the chairman of Apo Tire Plaza unit, Oko Utome Precious, said the union had lost faith in the government.

“Many of our colleagues who were attacked by thugs in the full glare of the police are still at the national hospital battling for their lives”, Mr. Oko said. “The FCT minister said a compensation panel was set up, but nobody has given us information about it. We have lost faith in the government. If we had proper shelter, or the mechanic village was fenced, the hoodlums wouldn’t have destroyed our businesses the way they did.”

Mr. Oko disclosed that several entreaties made to the FCTA to provide a conducive environment for the traders were ignored.

“We have no shade, no toilet or water. When it rains, we are drenched in the downpour”, he added.

When contacted, spokesman to the FCT minister, Abubakar Sani, told the Gazette that the compensation panel was only inaugurated on November 5.

Mr. Sani, however, declined comments on the modalities for compensation, as well as the financial strength of the FCTA.

The Gazette further gathered that an 18-member committee set up by the minister Thursday evening would be chaired by the Director-General, FCT Emergency Management Agency, Idris Abbas.

A statement issued by the FCTA charged the committee to, within two weeks, conduct itself around visiting and assessing the extent of damage to individual and public assets and assign value, amongst other things.

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