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INSIDE STORY: How death of passenger led to riot at Abuja market

INSIDE STORY: How death of passenger led to riot at Abuja market
May 19
19:46 2022

On Wednesday, there was chaos at Dei-Dei, a suburb of Abuja, which houses the popular building materials market.

An accident said to have occurred in the area led to riot, which resulted in the destruction of shops and vehicles.

Several persons were also said to have sustained gunshot wounds during the incident.

Although the federal capital territory administration (FCTA) has since ordered an indefinite closure of the market, when TheCable visited the area on Thursday, several residents could be seen lamenting the consequences of the violence.

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According to Sanni Idris, who identified himself as a tax collector, “an okada rider of Hausa extraction, who was conveying an Igbo woman, crashed into a truck”.

The woman was said to have died in the accident, while the okada rider sustained injuries.

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“That’s exactly what happened. I was just leaving a stall and I was in the area to collect tax. The motorcycle was burnt immediately in protest over the woman’s death. Three other motorcycles were burnt; look at the ashes,” Idris said.

One of the entrances to the market where four okadas were reportedly burnt

Dairu Garba, secretary of the tomato sellers’ association, corroborated Idris’ claim.

“The road safety said they will take the okada man and the corpse of the woman. The people there said they will be the ones to take the okada man. Right there, other okada riders disagreed with them, and insisted they wouldn’t allow the okada rider to be taken away. And that’s how the argument started,” Dairu said.

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Burnt water carts

THERE WAS SHOOTING IN THE MOSQUE’

According to Mohammed Mohammad, the chief Imam of Abu Huraira central mosque, the accident happened outside the gate of the main market, but within minutes, the chaos had spread to the timber shed division and other parts of the market.

The spot where one the persons taking cover near the mosque was reportedly shot

Mohammad said the mosque provided cover for persons fleeing the violence.

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“In less than 15 minutes of observing the situation, an unidentified armed man shot a pump action rifle directly through the fence of the mosque,” he said.

The shooting was said to have resulted in the death of five persons — including one person pronounced dead on Thursday morning — while 31 others sustained injuries.

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Mukhtari, a resident, showing his injured arm

Baba Ado, the chairman of the market, also said a total of five persons were reported dead, with 30 injured.

‘WE HAVE BEEN TOGETHER FOR MORE THAN 15 YEARS’

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Sunday Elijah was surrounded by his ‘boys’ who work with him on menial jobs inside the part of the market where timber is sold.

Vandalised shop

Speaking as he puffed heavy smoke after taking a drag from a rolled sheet of paper, Elijah said he has been in the market for more than 15 years as a casual worker.

He also said he had witnessed two of such riots — one in 2014 and another in 2015.

“This is the third time I would witness a clash here, but this is the craziest. See my friend here, he is a Muslim and I am a Christian. We have been living and working peacefully in this timber shed for the past 15 years,” Elijah said, while pointing to a man named Shamsudeen.

“Someone was killed outside the market and it spread down here. We just saw people running. At exactly 12pm, I started seeing flames everywhere. My boss’ shop is down. I have two children and a wife. I use the money I make here daily to feed them. I don’t know how to survive this till Monday,” he said.

However, Elijah and other traders in the market accused security operatives drafted to the area of not doing enough to douse the tension.

Vigilante operatives on duty

“Some of them only came to cause more commotion, which is not good in this country we are,” Sunday said.

“Truly, one woman died and the woman’s head exploded like a tire; That was the beginning of the problem. We that we are here, we do not know anything. Do you know how many millions of naira are invested here?”

“My boss’ shop was burnt. He will need to start from square one. We had soldiers, police and the vigilante but the fight wasn’t stopped on time.”

On his part, Shamsudeen said his younger brother was shot in the leg while trying to flee the commotion.

Aminat Umar

‘MY SON WAS SHOT IN THE STOMACH’

Aminat Umar was just returning from Crown Hospital in Gwagwa when this reporter met her at the pedestrian entrance of the main market.

She said her son, Adamu Umar — identified as a 25-year old tailor — was shot around the stomach region while trying to help a trader who was also shot.

“He was bleeding profusely. I only hope he survives. He bled too much. He was just trying to help before he was shot in the stomach,” she said.

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