Shop owners at the popular IBB central market in Suleja, Suleja Local Government Area of Niger State, have accused the council’s authorities of exploitation through multiple levies and taxes, thereby compounding their socio-economic challenges.
The traders stated their displeasure during a protest against alleged plans to expand some structures within the market by the council chairman Ishyaku Bawa Naibi. The protesting traders claimed the policies of the council have added to their frustrations
They explained that there are plans to remodel the Suleja market, claiming that aside from not being carried along, the local government leadership kept on asking them to pay different sums of money and also marked their shops for demolition under flimsy excuses.
The traders carrying placards with various inscriptions called on the state government and security agencies to intervene in the issue alleging that some of them who spoke against the action of the council are being threatened.
The spokesperson for the traders, Mr Obilly Nwaeze, told journalists that the traders had on severally occasions asked to meet with officials of the council for a roundtable discussion to resolve issues, but such requests were rejected and followed with threats from the agents of the local government council.
According to him: “The council initially asked us to pay N1.2 million each, per shop, to enable the authority allegedly raise the structures to upstairs, which was later reduced to N800,000 without telling us what the money is meant for. Aside from that, they also demanded that we pay another non-refundable N10,000 for forms. When we asked questions, some of us started getting threats.”
He accused the local government chairman and his team of not being sincere in their actions, saying: “If whatever adjustment they claim to be doing is meant for the traders, why are the traders not being carried along? Why are they not allowing us to make contributions to whatever they are doing?”
Reacting to the development, the chairman of the local government council, Bawa Naibi, through his Chief Press Secretary, Haruna Garba Kaniko, hinged the crisis between his office and the traders on the handiwork of some mischief-makers who were out to distort facts to suit their selfish motives.
Naibi explained that he is not aware of the N1.2 million as well as other levies being demanded from the traders for expansion purposes in the market.
He further explained that the demolition and adjustments being carried out in the market are for safety purposes.
“The IBB market has 1, 280 shops capacity according to the original master plan but today it has no less than 7, 000 shops,” he added.