By Stanley Onyekwere
Traders in Abuja, the capital city yesterday closed markets and shopping malls till midday, in honour of victims of the recent EMAB Plaza bomb blast, in Wuse II.
Prior to the action, it was gathered that traders in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), under the umbrella of National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS), FCT Chapter, had barely forth night ago concluded plans to close markets and plazas, as a mark of respect for their colleagues, who lost their lives in the unfortunate blast.
To this end, traders across markets and plazas in the city held a sit-at home till midday while offering prayers for the repose of the souls of dead victims of the attack; and also ask for God’s guardian and protection from the security situation in the country.
However, as usual rumours immediately spread around town- that soldiers and other security operatives had closed some markets in the city for in search of explosive devices or other security threats, as some of the places recorded heavy presence of security personnel during the exercise.
But when our Peoples Daily visited, Utako Ultra-Modern Market, one of the markets shut down, the Chief Security Officer at the market, Mr. Peter Abang, told our reporter that the Market union had on Wednesday (the previous day) instructed them to not open the market for business until 12:00 in the midday, which they merely obeyed accordingly.
On his part, Chairman, Utako Traders Market Union, Mr. Felix Nwaeze, who debunked the rumour of search for possible bomb planted in the market, said security operatives did not lock them out, but the closure was to give their departed colleagues the last respect they deserved.
He added that it was not only Utako market that was shut but the whole markets in FCT, saying that security operatives decided to conduct search on traders in the Wuse and Garki modern markets.
According to him, the closure of markets in Abuja goes to demonstrate that traders can speak with one voice and help government to tackle the recent upsurge of insecurity in the land.
“We closed our markets in respect of our people, who died in active trade at EMAB plaza, wuse; and the security did not lock us out, so the closure was a way of giving our departed colleagues the last respect.
“And the closure of markets in Abuja goes to demonstrate that traders can speak with one voice and help government in doing one or two things that they need from us to do to tackle the insecurity in the land,” he stressed.
On why there was heavy presence of security operatives at the market, Nwaeze says: “No the security didn’t lock us out, but what they came to do was to give us strategies on how to checkmate the threats of the prevailing insurgency in the market.
“They taught us how to check people entering into our markets and told us what to procure in order to beef up security in our market; of which we have started buying some, and the ones we cannot buy, we are appealing to the Federal government or FCT Administration to help us install them and then we would do the remaining ones.”
He therefore urged traders in the FCT to remain calm and go about their normal business activities at the various markets, knowing that everything is being taken control of.
Corroborating what the market union’s chairman said, Mr. Richard Ejeoma, consultant assistant to management of Utako market, noted however the security operatives have been coming to the market for the past one week, to carrying out routine security check there.
According to him, it only happened that when the security operatives visited the market yesterday, the market was still not opened for business, so they (management) took them round the vicinity, and showed them areas where they needed their assistance very much.
Commenting on the level of compliance with the recent directive by the FCT minister to managers of markets, plazas and other public places to beef up security in their area, he said through the effort of the stakeholders in the market, they have been able to procure the required security gadgets in the market.
“We are trying to install CCTV round the market, and we are even trying to change security guards and bring in more competent security personnel; and we have improved our relationship with the Police, so
that we can help them really work more efficiently, ” he stressed.
It would be recalled that on June 25, a car bomb exploded at the corridor of the gate of the busy EMAB plaza located near Banex Shopping Complex, opposite Uthman bin Affan Mosque, in Wuse II, Abuja, killing scores of people, who are mainly petty street traders, with others injured. This came just rarely two months after two adjudged deadliest explosions that rocked the FCT.