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Published On: Wed, Jun 11th, 2014

Traders flee Abuja markets over bomb scare

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Traders in major markets in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), yesterday scampered for safety following a bomb scare in Garki Modern Market, in Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) of the territory.
It was gathered that pandemonium broke out early morning yesterday when some security guards and traders raised an alarm that somebody had planted suspected explosive devices in some bags in the open area of the market.
Immediately afterwards, the rumour of the suspected planted explosives in the market gained currency within the Garki Market and several others in the city, leading to the swift abandonment of the markets as traders scampered for safety.

In the frenzy, traders in Garki Market were seen relocating their goods from that location to Enugu Street, in Garki Village, thereby causing heavy traffic gridlock in the village, just as many residents flee the area.
Also, the incident affected business activities in smaller markets and shopping plazas, including in the Neighbourhood Shopping Complex in Wuse Zone 3, Banex and Emab plazas, as well as Sheriff Plaza, all in Wuse II area of the city.

It took the arrival of policemen from the FCT police command and Garki divisional police station to douse the tension as the Garki and Wuse markets were closed down and the areas immediately cordoned off.
Men of the Anti-Bomb squad were immediately deployed to search the place.
Residents and motorists going about their normal duties were caught up in the frenzy of the traffic created by security cordon one of the lanes passing through the market to other parts of the city, forcing commuters to go through one lane.

When our reporter visited the area, many traders were stranded and confused. Those who had come out in the morning for their usual businesses were seen in groups discussing the situation, while others who were frightened by the shocking news had no option than to turn back home for safety.
At some major markets, traders were also kept out for several hours to ensure that the marketplaces were combed for life threatening objects to ensure the safety of traders and their customers.
Besides, the traders, motorists, and customers at all the markets were subjected to thorough search to ensure that dangerous objects were not taken into the market.

Abuja MarketAccording to Mr. Oda Okaro, a trader in Garki Market, “the bomb scare was just a mere speculation”.
He explained that: “I just arrived this morning (yesterday) with the hope of a great day just to meet a locked market. The people I met here told me that there were rumours of a bomb planted in the market and needed the services of the men of police anti-bomb squad to ascertain the truth and diffuse the bomb if there’s any.
“Me and other traders hung around the market for hours and when we were about to leave at about 10:00am, they started calling us that they have sorted out the issue and that all is safe for traders to carry out their daily business activities”, Oda said.
Similarly, another trader, who gave her name simply as Faith, said: “When I got to the market, I saw that some places were deserted and I was told that some people had planted bomb in the area and police around the market asked us to move out of the premises, that they want to lock the main entrance for security reasons. I believed when I saw policemen there.

“The thing really affected business around that area as people were scared to move close to the market. Police also prevented people from passing through that area”, she added.
Commenting on the incident, the Public Relations Officer of the FCT police command, Altine Daniel, said there was no bomb in the market but a misunderstanding of security checks in the place by security operatives.
“It was not a bomb scare and there was no bomb scare. We have moved in there and it was just a security check that some people misunderstood but the markets were opened and people have gone back to their normal business,” said the PRO who spoke on phone.
Investigation showed that the markets were reopened at about noon yesterday for normal businesses to continue, though many traders opted to return to their homes.
Meanwhile, in a bid to secure lives and properties in the territory, the FCT Minister, Senator Bala Mohammed, has directed the management of all institutions and places of large public gathering within the territory to immediately develop their individual comprehensive security plans of action to forestall any attack by insurgents.
Some of the public places affected by the ministerial directive include motor parks, restaurants, markets, supermarkets, shopping malls and centres, drinking joints, parks and gardens, banks, churches, mosques, hotels, viewing centres and hospitals, etc.
According to a statement by his Special Assistant on Media, Nosike Ogbuenyi, the directive was to forestall further attacks in the city.
Also, the minister advised residents to shun public viewing centres; especially during the forthcoming World Cup as such places are among soft targets for the terrorists.

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