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Traders protest demolition of Enugu market shops

By The Citizen
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Apparently flouting a subsisting order of the Enugu High Court restraining it from demolishing stalls at the Old Park Market without relocating the 890 affected traders, the state government has begun the demolition of stalls in the market.

In the first phase of the demolition exercise carried out under the supervision of the Enugu Capital Territory Development Authority, about 66 stalls were completely demolished while the remaining 824 were at the weekend marked for demolition beginning from Monday.

The government had last year indicated interest to relocate the traders in the market to enable it erect a shopping mall at the place, claiming it had asked the affected traders to relocate to the new market on Aria road. But when it started issuing the affected traders with quit notice, the traders had gone to court on the ground that the so called alternative location is not real.

In the suit filed on their behalf by Ifeanyichukwu Eneh against the state government and Enugu Capital Territory, the traders had sought the protection of their property rights.

The court had through both interim and interlocutory orders restrained the state government from demolishing the stalls without providing alternative place to the affected traders.

Some of the affected traders, who spoke yesterday said they were shocked to arrive their shops on Friday to discover a notice from the state government urging them to 'park out without an alternative place', even when there was a subsisting court order barring government from demolition the stalls.

'We are not against government doing whatever they want to do with the place, but what we are saying is that many of us have paid rents in advance running into millions of naira to the same state government, yet they asked for the rents, collected them and never told us that we are not wanted at the place. This is where we do our business. Many of us have two to three shops here. What we are asking for is that they should show us alternative places to do our business', one of the affected traders, Chief Joseph Ahara said.

In a statement on their behalf by their Counsel, Tagbo Ike, he condemned the action of the state government as not only dictatorial but barbaric.

All efforts to reach the Commissioner for Information, Mr. Chuks Ugwuoke proved abortive as he neither answered calls to his mobile number nor responded to text messages on his phone.