There was pandemonium in Abuja, yesterday, when angry residents took to the busy Kubwa-Zuba expressway to protest over the death of a mother and her son during the demolition of Aluguyi Village known popularly known as Lungu Village in the FCT by officials of the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA).
Photos from the protest in Abuja below
The protest created a heavy traffic on the busy road with vehicles stretching for several kilometres, with the protesters who started the protest at about 12 noon, barricaded the expressway with burning tyres and bricks, protesting over the lives that were lost during what they described as unannounced and inhuman demolition of the community by the officials of the FCDA.
Top Nigerian entertainer, Charlie Boy who resides in Gwarimpa also reacted to the demolition saying: “If government wants to embark on this kind of exercise, there is the need to get the people psychologically prepared.
“You can see I have been pleading with them to stop the protests and open the roads to no avail; it is understandable because what happened today is very painful,’’ Charlie Boy said.
According to a witness, Mr Joshua Iyah, officials of the FCDA in company of well armed military personnel stormed the community at about 10am, and started demolishing houses along with their belongings, not minding if people were inside or not.
“During the demolition, a primary school boy came home from school tired and hungry, not understanding what was going on, he entered their house to change from his school uniform and as he was still inside the house, that was when the bulldozer demolishing their house and blocks fell on the boy.
“Attempts to rescue the boy were not successful because the military and policemen were using whips against us. They even prevented his mother from rescuing him. The boy died immediately. When the mother of the boy saw what happened to her child, she took a broken bottle and stabbed herself to death”, he said.
JethroIliya, another eye witness said that they initially started the protest inside Gwarinpa estate, but when there was no response from the FCT minister, Sen. Bala Mohammed or relevant authorities, they decided to move to Kubwa-Zuba expressway to express their grievances.
“To make matters worse the policemen shot two people, when we were protesting over the two people shot, the military men started shooting again in the air. As I speak to you, two people are dead and two are currently in the hospital.
“What wrong have we done as natives of Abuja to have given our land to the federal government? We have given enough! They have collected our farmlands, we were quiet, now they are coming to chase us out of our houses. We have so many graduates everywhere, but no job, yet they will say we are not educated.
“Enough is enough, we have been pushed to the wall. This is just the beginning, we cannot take this anymore! Was it a crime for us to have given our land to Nigeria? This is too much, we are not animals. They should do the right thing in Abuja, before it is too late,” he said.
However, Kalu Emetu, Public Relations officer of the Development Control Department said that he was not aware of any deaths.
He said that the case with Lungu village had been in court for some months and judgment was recently delivered in favour of the Department.
He said that structures that were demolished in the exercise were illegal squatters and shanties.
“Squatter settlers encroached on Plot 64, Kafe District, in Lungu Village, which was meant for an estate.
“Development Control marked the area for demolition since March 2014 and the villagers went to court; the court finally struck out the case.
“Fifty four illegal structures, 17 shanties, 5 shops and one church were removed and I am not aware of any death,’’ he said
Yunusa Yusuf, the Secretary General, Abuja Original Inhabitants Association, in his reaction, said the protest became necessary to push for the rights of original indigenes.
Mr. Yusuf said that the inhabitants had continuously pleaded with the Federal Government to recognise their position as original inhabitants of the FCT.
“Overtime, we have seen that nobody is recognising us or appreciating the fact that we have sacrificed our ancestral land and everything for the benefit of everyone.
“We live among the rich but we are the poorest people; our children are not considered in any good schools and almost all our youths are jobless.
“They do not have any opportunity to benefit from various empowerment programmes,’’ he said.
Mr. Yusuf said that the indigenes had made several efforts to talk with the FCT Minister, Bala Muhammed, to assist them without success hence the protest.
He added that the protest would not be suspended until government intervened.
Also, John Efere, the Commandant, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), said his office had no record of any casualty in the course of the demolition.
“We do not have record of any casualty; I believe the residents are just angered by the demolition.
“I just want to appeal to residents of the area to shun violence and embrace dialogue in the interest of peace,” Mr. Efere said.