Benue: CSOs And Govt In Market Relocation Face-Off

By Grace Adaaku

The ongoing disagreement between traders and the state government may have taken deeper dimensions as Civil rights bodies have joined the fight to resist the relocation of a major market in the state Capital.

The Rights activist have condemned the plans by the Benue state government to relocate one of the biggest markets in Makurdi, Wurukum market without proper discussion and resettlement plans for the inhabiting traders.

In a statement signed by Comrade Isaac Ikpa of Centre for Social Justice Equity and Transparency (CESJET) alongside leaders of four other Civil Rights Organisations, namely Lawyers United for the Defence of Democracy, Benue Youth Movement for Good Governance, Stand Up Nigeria (SUN) and Organizing for Nigeria (OFN), they debunked claims by the government that traffic congestion is the reason for the relocation, noting that the real reason behind the repositioning was to create space for a South African business concern to take over as site for its shopping complex.

“Truth be told at this juncture that the relocation has nothing to do with frequent congestions and other negative planning problems around Wurukum market as the Honourable Commissioner for Commerce and Industry would want to make us to believe. We have uncovered a grand design to sell the present site of Wurukum Market to Shoprite, a South African business concern”. They stated.

They said their concern in the matter is the inhuman treatment meted out to the traders who have not been given proper compensation after their shops are being taken over. According to them the relocation of the market has not dealt with the issue of recompense for existing shop owners who they argue in the new deal will become tenants even as their tenure on the property they had bought in the old market is yet to expire.

“... come to think of it, why will the government reduce shop owners who have established themselves as landlords at Wurukum Market to mere tenants at the Ultra Modern International Market where most of the shops have been rightly sold to individuals? Why will there not be express compensation payable to shop owners whether or not they possess valid Certificates of Occupancy? ”

The organisations have in addition threatened to protest in solidarity with the traders on Wednesday, October 26th 2016 to compel the government to retract its steps and “serve Benuelites rather than serve the interest of few individuals”.