After the state government demolished shops and stalls of traders in Niger State, irate youths on Tuesday, joined traders to attack the residence of the Niger State Deputy Governor, Ahmed Ketso.
A mini-market on Brighter Road in Minna was demolished on Tuesday, in an exercise to clear highways in the state of illegal structures.
A shop owner, Muritala Ahmed, said the state government did not notify them before demolishing their shops, adding that officials of the Niger State Urban Development Board (NSUDB) simply asked him to move out of his shop and started demolishing it without even allowing him to remove his cash, goods and other valuables.
“I was just sitting in my shop and they said come out; their bulldozer was already stationed in front of my shop and immediately they removed me forcefully, their bulldozer brought down my entire shop without allowing me to pick my cash, goods and other valuables.
“I feel like dying as the board has taken me back to zero levels, I am left with nothing right now,” he told NAN.
In reaction, the Chief Press Secretary to the Deputy Governor, Maimuna Kolo, she said the youth were angry because the NSUDB demolished illegal structures in the area.
“They (youth) decided to vent their anger on the private residence of the deputy governor.
“The deputy governor was just a victim of circumstance in this case,” Mrs Kolo said.
Speaking to NAN, the Acting General Manager of NSUDB, Muhammed Bawa, said that the exercise, which started from the state capital, would extend to other urban centres in the state.
He said that the demolition of the illegal structures on the roads was to make for the right of way, which was part of the statutory functions of his board.
“The development control is a routine activity which we started last week, it is an ongoing thing and it will continue until all illegal structures are removed.
“From Minna, the state capital, we are planning to move to Suleja and other urban centres in the state,” he said.
Mr Bawa, however, said that the NSUDB gave prior notice to the owners of illegal structures to remove them, contradicting what some of the affected people said.
He said that going by the provisions of the law, the board was not obliged to notify them “because if you are occupying an illegal piece of land that is not yours and you don’t have any right, as far as the government is concerned, it would be removed.
“We were magnanimous enough to have written to them but the COVID-19 pandemic did not allow us to take action until now,’’ he said.