Maiduguri Residents react to Demolition of Galadima Hotels, Lodges, Clubs, Chalets By Borno State Government

By Ahmed Abu, The Nigerian Voice, Maiduguri

The recent action of the Borno state government in line with security and welfare policy of the state saddled on the chief security officer of the state who is equally the state governor, Kashim Shettima following the security challenges the state is bedevilled with in the past nine to ten years of the boko Haram insurgency with the gradual return of peace and restoration of law and order in the state aimed at boosting the safety of lives and property was viewed with mixed grills in the context of human rights, persona affairs, welfare, social life and hostility among others by both the victims of the action of the state government, hoteliers, commercial riders and drivers as well as residents of Maiduguri city and its environs. The Nigerian Voice Maiduguri Correspondent , Ahmed Abu took an x-ray of the comment, criticisms and remarks trailing the decision and subsequent action of the Borno state government to raid Galadima commercial and social gathering zone of Maiduguri city and arrest free sex girls or prostitutes and their masters and confiscate their property three days after Governor Kashim Shettima tasked the state security chiefs within 10 days to demolish all the hotels, lodges, clubs and Cartels that exist in Galadima area of Maiduguri metropolis for security reasons.

It was gathered that at the Iftar or Ramadan Fast breakfast with state security chiefs, the Governor announced the demolition and subsequently, a task force was constituted and swung into action where on Tuesday, it raided the area and made some arrest apart from confiscat ion of some items ahead of the demolition exercise of the hotels, lodges and clubs at the expenses of the hoteliers, customers and visitors that patronize the social places mostly at night between 6-10 pm daily bubbling and hassling, rocking around freely without any molestation or harassment in spite of the security situation in town as most of the customers that patronize the places were teenage girls, divorcees, widows, students from tertiary institutions, dropouts, missing teenage girls, teenage boys or adolescents, the young and the even the old age without limitation or restriction on sex desires, selling of condoms, alcohol, drugs, beer, wine, cigarette, Indian hemp, tramdol, even cocaine among other hard drugs and intoxicating syrups or solutions were on sale and being consumed by all and sundry at will and freely.

However, the move by the state government to demolish and reconstruct the area which is located few kilometers away the demolished Mosque of late Boko Haram Leader, Mohammed Yusuf attracted lot of reactions and counter reactions from all facets of life and residents of Maiduguri city where some condemned the state government’s action and decision while others commended the state government despite the criticisms by some quarters who felt the state government did wrong and those who benefit from the activities taking place in the area daily as they make gains while some earn a living through prostitution, selling of drugs, condoms, sex piles, alcohol, roasted and dry chicken, fish and meat, operate rooms for short time sex, lodge over night for those who can not go home by 10 pm or before curfew time, commercial drivers or town service keke NAPEP and golf as well as car fire, ,provision stores and shops owners, food canteen and restaurant operators, pepper soup and pepper meat operators, beer parlour operators among others.

Some residents around the area and owners of businesses who declined to mention their names were of the view that the action of the state government was harsh and brutal while others were of the opinion that it was good and a right step taken by the state government to cleanse the menace of drugs abuse and prostitution.

A lecturer with university of Maiduguri, Malam Al Qassim Al Hussain said," in fact, when we heard of this news on radio and television, majority of the people closer to us were impressed with what the government plan".

"Some of the university community members highly commended the bold steps of the governor for coming out outrightly to tell the state security chiefs who are aware of all the atrocities and criminalities taking place and mostly by their boys who patronize the area at night taking advantage of the curfew period to relax without any interference.

" In fact, from what I have been hearing, the entire area was turn as mami or more than mami as most of the things happening there can not take place in mami because in mami there are rules and regulations or laws guiding every transaction or activity there.

"But that is not the case here in Galadima area where they have turned the area to sex and alcohol zone making some victims of boko Haram insurgency orphans and widows as well as even the widowers and adulterers patronizing the area.

" They are invariably, encouraging our daughters and wives to be prostitutes and not to stay at home or their matrimonial homes, especially with this poverty level where survival has become a terrible thing.

"We on our side, we welcome it and support the government to continue what it is doing there, reactivating the area for better economic development even though we learnt that there are people who operate small small businesses around the area to earn a living like provision stores, shoos, all these street hawkers and women selling roasted fish, and meat or birds.

" Same thing with these boys operating keke NAPEP at night, encouraging the youths in the area in making money but for how long and to what benefit or glory. We should ask ourselves if such things are good or bad for the society particularly now that we are faced with security challenges. Thank God for the efforts and sacrifices of the security agents and vigilante groups, today, the situation is improving while on the other side, instead of us glorifying God, we are engaging in sex and alcohol which anger God to punish us again.

"It is right time we realize this truth and do away with all these rubbish and face God to bless and protect us from the evils of the insurgency rather than all these disgrace and shameless acts", Al Hussain said.

But another resident of Maiduguri metrpolis at Baga road, Mr. Ike Oguchukwu , a business man operating a shop along Baga road, said, " Yes. We heard what government said but we are a bit happy to say the truth."

"What government did is wrong. It affected our people. They are also human beings and can live their lives and enjoy their lives as Nigerians and citizens of Nigeria in Borno state.

" So, the governor should have humanly asked them to pack and leave giving them enough time to move out with their things. At least, they used money to invest to buy and fix all those things there. Some are even living there permanently, being their property.

"Government should have asked them to prepare and relocate to another place by providing them with alternative place even outside the town for them to continue with their businesses.

" With this action now, these people operating and owning things there will become jobless, loose their life time investments and property without compensation the way things are going on. I still think government can help them with money to start up again else where.

"And these girls they are talking about can then turn into armed robbers and drug addicts being jobless while those operating dry and roasted fish and chicken will become jobless and no where to go to.

" Some of them are children helping their parents and relations or families and today, no more. What do you think will follow.

It is what the government don't want that will follow if they can not make ends meet. Next will be drugs and prostitution all over the town as there are other lodges and hotels even geuest houses around in town that these girls and their men can patronize to spend their money and time there.

"That is why the government should have thought twice about the action and make or give out suggestions first before taking this decision of raiding and demolition to reduce the social vices rather than this instantly bold step to humiliate the young girls and boys who are already unemployed and struggling to earn a living as there is no job and government can not give them job", Oguchukwu said.

Madam Christiana Osage, a trader at Monday Market living at Wulari area said, " We are aware of what is happening at Galadima area. Our children used to discuss it and it is not good. These girls and boys are our children. It is better for them to find something else better instead of them to sale their body to men.

Parents should watch their children especially those teenagers that are dropouts from school and those girls that finished school but they can not further their studies due to financial problems or parental problem as some of them have lost their parents and are orphans while some of them, their mothers are widows.

Even to eat is wahala and to send the children to school is another wahala. There is nobody to take care of them at this point in time. Worst of it all, the mothers don't have money to start even petty business. Whatever they get is for food not to talk about business.

That is why I don't allow my children to make unnecessary friends, roaming about after school or being idle at home; that is why I ask them to follow me to the market and I keep watching them even at the market. You know that our girls nowadays, can be smart and prove to parents that they are new generation in many ways. But you too, as parents, have to be smarter than them, using wisdom and experience that the children don't have to train them to be disciplined and contented in life because life is not always about money as these children think of, " Christiana said.

A father of five children and teacher in government day secondary school Maiduguri, Malam Baamasa Modu said, " No reasonable parent will aloiw His child to patronize such area whether at day time or in the night talkess of during curfew hours."

"I wonder what is wrong with some people in Borno state. We are living witnesses for over 9 years of insurgency calamities and many lives and property are destroyed. All these are lessons for us to rethink and pray for peace and progress.

" But unfortunately, parents allow their children and in some cases, sale them out for worldly things and they will end up with disease like HIV/AIDS or ritualists or drug addiction. Yet parents and even the youths are not reasonable enough to realize the damage.

A student of Ramatpoly, Department of Building Engineering, Musa Yakubu said," We know what is happening in Galadima area. Many of us don't go there but those that visit there narrets to us many bad things that are happening there."

"It is good that Government is clearing the area in order for good things to happen to Maiduguri and Borno state like peace, law ad order. We don't want disturbances again. We have seen hell already.

" We pray for peace and stability. So, all these evils should stop and governmt should support or assist the girls and boys with employment. That may be why they are going to such places.

" Such people can constitue danger to the society because they are used to having money and now that their source of income is gone, it becomes very dangerous to the society", Yakubu said.

It was also gathered that the state government intend to build a girl- child school there after the demolition.

But the 21-Member Hoteliers association operating at Galadima Area of Maiduguri city have appealed to the Borno state government to reconsider its decision on demolition of the 21 existing hotels and lodges by allowing them to convert their buildings to residential accommodation for the people.

They also said that they were not ignorant of the law and ignorant of the law was not an excuse as Nigerian Railways Corporation NRC was aware of their operations and existence in the area hence the land belongs to the federal government.

The Spokesman of the Hoteliers, Mr. Amaechi John who addressed journalists Thursday at the Correspondents Chapels of NUJ office in Maiduguri urged the state government to reverse its decision and temper justice with mercy not to demolish their structures of over N50-N60 million having invested in the area as loan facility from the bank which is yet to be repaid.

He said most of the hoteliers have been operating business in the area for almost 40 years and also lived in Maiduguri for over 40 years as well , gave birth to their children in Maiduguri and never left Maiduguri even at the peak of the insurgency running their businesses in the state.

Amaechi added that the NRC has never asked them to leave or vacate the area and they were not aware that Borno state Government had acquired the area from the NRC Properties Limited which they pay taxes r revenue to and which belongs to the federal government.

On the issue of prohibition of sale of alcohol where notice had been served to them on 26th January 2018, he said, nobody told them to leave hence the area belongs to the Federal Government and they all pay revenues to the NRC, the Maiduguri metropolitan Council (MMC) and Jere LGC regularly.

He further explained that so far, none of the offences or crimes mentioned has ever been committed by the owners of the hotels and lodges or clubs and none of them has ever been convicted by the court for any offence .

Mr. John called on the state government to sympathize with them and consider their huge investment in the building structures and compensate them if government will insist on demolishing their only investments that they borrowed money from banks to invest on which is yet to be paid back.

He said that they are also co-citizens of Nigeria and Borno state as all their children were born in Maiduguri Borno state and have lived all their lives in Maiduguri and invested in Maiduguri paying their taxes regularly as businessmen.

Amaechi asserted that all the offences or crimes they are being accused of happening were committed by the visitors to the area not their families or selves rather they provided employment to thousands of youths working in their companies all these years as employers of labour contributing to the socio economic development of the state and living in peace with people.

The Borno State Government Issued aThree Day Demolition Notice To Galadima and Other Illegal Chalets within Maiduguri and it's environs.

The High Powered committee, chaired by Attorny general and commissioner of justice Hon. Kaka Shehu Lawan, along side commissioner for Land and survey, Ministry of land and survey Borno state Hon. Sugun Mai Mele accompanied by the Director, issued a three day ultimitum to vacate the area or face the wrath of law from 29th May 2018 to 2nd June to 2018.

The properties slated for Demolishing includes illegally acquired land, substandard structures, and construction at inappropriate locations, occupied without document. The structures includes:

* New Travels Hotel.
* Gondola Hotel.
* paragon Hotel.
* Chinners Hotel.
* Pampas Hotel.
* Favour land Hotel.
* Blue Sport Hotel.
* Sea Never Dry Hotel.
* Rall View Hotel.
* Okonna Hotel.
* Easy Guest in Hotel.
* Peace Hotel.
* Chicago Hotel.
* Chrbos hotel.
* Benue Hotel.
* New Travelers 2 Hotel.
* Moonlight Hotel.
* Chobados hotel.
* Chiners 2 Hotel.
* Wazobia Hotel.
* Barka Da zuwa 1 Hotel.
* Barka Da zuwa 2 Hotel.
* Loyal City Hotel.
* Make we Flex Hotel.
* Favour land Hotel.
* Maintenance Hotel.
The Commissioner went further to state that there will be no sacred cow as they will strictly adhere to the 3 day ultimatum notice without extension.