Irate youth on Tuesday joined traders to attack the residence of the Niger State Deputy Governor, Ahmed Ketso, after the state government demolished their shops.
The state government had on Tuesday demolished a mini-market on Brighter Road in Minna, in an exercise to clear highways in the state of illegal structures.
One of the shop owners, Muritala Ahmed, said the state government did not notify them before demolishing their shops.
Mr Ahmed said officials of the Niger State Urban Development Board (NSUDB)
simply asked him to move out of his shop and started demolishing it without even allowing him to remove his cash, goods and other valuables.
“I was just sitting in my shop and they said come out; their bulldozer was already stationed in front of my shop and immediately they removed me forcefully, their bulldozer brought down my entire shop without allowing me to pick my cash, goods and other valuables.
“I feel like dying as the board has taken me back to zero level, I am left with nothing right now,” he lamented.
Moses Dunia, another trader affected by the demolition exercise, alleged that the state government protected the house of the state deputy governor on the same lane.
When NAN contacted the Chief Press Secretary to the Deputy Governor, Maimuna Kolo, she said the youth were angry because the NSUDB demolished illegal structures in the area.
“They (youth) decided to vent their anger on the private residence of the deputy governor.
“The deputy governor was just a victim of circumstance in this case,” Mrs Kolo said.
The state government, on Tuesday, started the demolition of illegal structures on Minna roads.
The Acting General Manager of NSUDB, Muhammed Bawa, told journalists in Minna that the exercise, which started from the state capital, would extend to other urban centres in the state.
He said that the demolition of the illegal structures on the roads was to make for the right of way, which was part of the statutory functions of his board.
“The development control is a routine activity which we started last week, it is an ongoing thing and it will continue until all illegal structures are removed.
“From Minna, the state capital, we are planning to move to Suleja and other urban centres in the state,” he said.
Mr Bawa said that the NSUDB gave prior notice to the owners of illegal structures to remove them, contradicting what some of the affected people said.
He said that going by the provisions of the law, the board was not obliged to notify them “because if you are occupying an illegal piece of land that is not yours and you don’t have any right, as far as the government is concerned, it would be removed.
“We were magnanimous enough to have written to them but the COVID-19 pandemic did not allow us to take action until now,’’ he said.
Meanwhile, the spokesperson of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) in the state, Nas Abdullahi, said some staff of the NSUDB were attacked by some youth during the demolition exercise.
“It is true that the youth in the area attacked the officials of the board and injured a driver,” he disclosed.
Mr Abdullahi said that the driver was promptly taken to a hospital for treatment.