The violence that engulfed the Dei-Dei Building Materials market in Abuja on Wednesday, 18th May, 2022, was not motivated by ethnicity or religion but was the action of criminal elements who started the violence in order to carry out their criminal intentions.
But his position differs from that of the Vicar of the St. Bartholomew Cathedral, Ven. Barr. Tunde Oyesina,
who read sectional reasons to the violence that claimed four lives. He warned that if government did not check the activities of persons from a part of the country, Nigerians may resort to self-help.
The clergyman, whose members lost their source of income to the carnage from commercial motorcyclists and hoodlums mainly from the Hausa community of the country, in a public letter to his church members promised help to them..
FCT Minister, Malam Muhammad Musa Bello who visited the market in the evening following the incident earlier on Wednesday, to ascertain for himself the cause and extent of the violence which also led to the razing of shops and vehicles within the market.
Accompanied by the Chairman of Abuja Municipal Area Council, Mr Abdullahi Adamu Candido, FCT Commissioner of Police Mr Sunday Babaji and other top security and senior officials of the FCTA, the Minister met with the various market and community leaders and took an assessment tour of damage in the market.
Speaking passionately after the tour, the Minister said “After an emergency security meeting with the relevant security agencies including the Commissioner of Police and the Director of the DSS and senior management officials of the FCT, we decided come here.
“And we came here specifically because on the social media, all kinds of stories are being circulated saying there is an inter-ethnic crisis in Abuja with one tribe fighting against the other. I have come here and met the leadership of the market, I have met the leadership of the communities and met the political leadership as represented by the Chairman and vice chairman of Abuja Municipal Area Council, and what really came out very clearly was that this was an accident that occurred when a lady on a commercial motorcycle fell off and a vehicle ran over her and unfortunately, she passed on.
“As a result of this incident tension rose and hoodlums took over and like they do everywhere in the world, their target is economic assets and they burnt down a substantial part of the timber market and other markets around here and they burnt many vehicles.
“There was no communal clash here and I appeal to all residents of Abuja to continue to live here as we have always lived in peace as the center of unity.
But the vicar of the church stated in his letter: “With the deepest sympathy, the Dean of the Cathedral , the Rt. Rev. Dr. Duke T. Akamisoko , Cathedral Archdeacon, Ven. Barr. Tunde Oyesina , the Pastoral team , Cathedral Standing Committee and the entire St. Bartholomew Cathedral identify with you at this most trying period when , shops, investments and source of income, most especially at the Timber Shed came under a heavy attack by a section of the country.
The sight of the destruction can only be condemned by only those who know the worth of living and existence.
“As reliably informed , some of our brethren were affected by this dastard act of people who took laws into their hands to destroy people’s property.
“We hereby express our deepest sympathy to our affected brothers.
“We can only pray and continue to pray that the Lord Almighty will restore and recover for you, all that have been lost in the name of Jesus Christ.
“While we commend the intervention of the FCT Minister and the FCT Commissioner of Police for shutting the market down till Monday to forestall peace , We strongly call for a lasting solution stopping a section of the country from continuous terrorising, harrasing and intimidating other sections of the country .
“It is high time the Government stepped in before individuals will resolve to self help and defense which can invariably lead the country to a state of chaos and lawlessness as no particular section or tribe has the monopoly of violence.”
But, Minister Bello called on the community leaders to work at fishing out the bad eggs within their folds and help in bringing them to justice.
He said “What I told the community leaders is that they have to fish out the hoodlums and the bad eggs amongst them. This is because this time around, hoodlums carried arms and they shot innocent people. This is very sad and totally, unequivocally, unacceptable in Abuja.
He said that a full scale investigation will be carried out by the security organisations with the full collaboration of the affected communities adding “I am appealing to other communities within the FCT that this is not a tribal or religious misunderstanding. All the leadership of the various stakeholders have lived here in peace for many, many years.
“It is simply a matter of criminals and hoodlums taking the law into their hands and I implore every community in the FCT to ensure that community leaders identify miscreants, drug pushers, drug dens and drinking joints where crime and criminality takes place. The police and the military cannot be everywhere at the same time.
Reacting to a request by one of the market leaders that the police presence in the market be improved, the Minister pledged that the police post in the market will be upgraded and the FCT Administration will provide the needed support while the police commissioner equally pledged more personnel.
While commending the efforts of the security agencies and community leaders for their efforts in containing the violence, Malam Bello prayed for the repose of the souls of those who lost their lives and ordered the immediate closure of the timber market and adjoining markets.
In the same vein, Malam Bello also ordered the immediate ban on all trading activities along the road sides and directed that all transactions be carried out within the shops.
The Minister was accompanied on the visit by the Permanent Secretary, FCTA, Mr Olusade Adesola, the Chief of Staff, Malam Bashir Mai-Bornu, the Secretary, Area Council Services secretariat Alh. Ibrahim Abubakar Dantsoho and other senior officials of the FCTA.
Many traders lamented they suffered huge losses as a result of the riot.
One of the traders, Obiora Nnaemeka said he lost timber goods worth over a billion naira to the outbreak.
According to him: “See someone warehouse that has over N1 billion. What did we do to the Hausas in this country. See house properties are being destroyed,” Nnaemeka lamented.
The vicar commended the intervention of the FCT Minister and the FCT Commissioner of Police for shutting the market down till Monday to forestall peace and called for a lasting solution stopping a section of the country from continuous terrorising, harrasing and intimidating other sections of the country .
“It is high time the Government stepped in before individuals will resolve to self help and defense which can invariably lead the country to a state of chaos and lawlessness as no particular section or tribe has the monopoly of violence.
“The Church will always stand by, assist and support our members at all times and in every situation.
“The Church will in the coming days after knowing the number of our members affected do something in the spirit of love and brotherhood.
“The Scriptures in Joel 2: 25 – 26 says “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten— the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm — my great army that I sent among you. 26 You will have plenty to eat, until you are full, and you will praise the name of the LORD your God, who has worked wonders for you; never again will my people be shamed”.
“This is our prayers for all of our brethren affected by this riotous act.
“May the Peace of the Lord always be with you. Amen,” the vicar added.