Why Abuja Major Markets Were Closed

Panic again gripped the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, yesterday as police cordoned off the perimeter of the popular Wuse and Garki ultramodern markets in Abuja as rumours spread of possible bombing by terrorists.

Shop owners and passersby got to the markets only to see that armed policemen had already taken over the markets.

FCT police spokesperson, Altine Daniel, was quoted as saying the temporary closure was as a result of intelligence report received by the police.

Many residents, whose relatives work within the areas where the markets are located, called them on the phone to confirm their wellbeing.

While the closure lasted, no one was allowed into the markets as anti-bomb police officers carried out thorough searches on them.

Many people, including shop owners and buyers, lamented the closure as some of them returned home to avert further eventualities.

One of the shop owners at Wuse Market, Janet Agbim, said: “There has been this type of rumour here. But since this is where we work, we cannot stop coming to do our business. We know it could be false.”

Agbim, who lamented that the exercise would negatively impact on the traders’ daily sale, advised that the best way government could guarantee security at the market was to ensure that individuals and vehicles coming in were properly screened.

Some banks around the markets closed down fully for the day with only their automated teller machines, ATMs, rendering services.

Shortly after the markets were reopened by the police, private security guards at the Wuse Market were seen screening everyone coming through a small gate leading into the market.

All roads around the two markets witnessed a heavy gridlock as vehicles were diverted to other routes.

Abuja has been under great fear of bombing since April when bombing returned on the city.

Repeated terrorists’ attack on Nyanya motor park on April 14 and May 1, this year broke two year’s respite from bombings in the capital.

The two incidents claimed over 150 lives and rendered many others injured.

But security consciousness among residents is growing as there has been fear among residents in traffic logjams and those driving at night over possible attack.

Until the last two attacks, the last time Abuja witnessed bombing was on April 26, 2012, when Thisday newspapers office was hit by the terrorists.

The Police Force Headquarters and the United Nations House had earlier been bombed with Boko Haram insurgents claiming responsibilities for all the attacks on the city.

Operations of the group are mostly carried out in the North-East with thousands of people killed by the group, which is also currently in custody of over 200 students of Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, Borno State, two months ago.

The schoolgirls were abducted while writing their West African School Certificate Examination.

While many Nigerians are impatiently waiting for international military and technical aids to release the girls, the sect on Monday abducted another 20 women near Chibok.

Peeved by yesterday’s bomb scare, the FCT Minister, Bala Mohammed, has directed the management of all institutions and places of large public gathering within the territory to immediately develop their own comprehensive security plans of action to forestall any attack by insurgents.

Special Assistant to the Minister on Media, Nosike Ogbuenyi, who stated this after an emergency security meeting in Abuja, said the ministerial directive stressed the need for proactive measures by stakeholders to avert further terror attacks.

He listed the public gathering places affected by the ministerial directive to include motor parks, restaurants, markets, supermarkets, shopping malls and centres, drinking joints, parks and gardens, banks, churches, mosques, hotels, viewing centres and hospitals.

“Apart from installing separate close circuit televisions, CCTVs, they are required to liaise with appropriate security agencies and engage well-trained uniformed security personnel who shall be equipped with bomb detectors.

The minister also directed that all entry and exit routes to such places must be adequately captured by the CCTV cameras and be manned by well- equipped security personnel,” Ogbuenyi added.

The minister advised residents to shun public viewing centres, especially during the World Cup as such places are among soft targets of terrorists. The managements of the places of gathering are also expected to strictly comply with the security requirements.

They should also liaise with the Security Department of the Office of the Hon. Minister of FCT. According to the minister, those who fail to comply with the directive will face severe sanctions, which may include sealing off of the affected institutions or places.

The minister has also set up an ad hoc committee to formulate comprehensive security requirements for all public places in the FCT.

The committee, headed by the Coordinator of Abuja Metropolitan Management Council, AMMC, Reuben Okoya, has as members the Special Adviser to the Minister on Security, the Director of Security, the General Counsel, the Managing Director of Abuja Markets Management Limited, the Director of Engineering of the FCDA, the Secretaries of Transportation, Area Council and Social Development Secretariats as well one representative each from the offices of the Minister of State and the Permanent Secretary of FCT.

Meanwhile, President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday sued for more understanding of Nigerians as the Federal Government battles to stamp out insurgency from the country.

He said although the war might be taking long to win, government had evolved new measures to guarantee the safety of Nigerians.

Jonathan gave the assurances yesterday when he received the 2014 National Fire Safety Award from the Fire Disaster Prevention and Safety Awareness Association of Nigeria.

The President added that he would not spare any effort towards ensuring the stability of the country.

Receiving the award on behalf of the President, Minister of Interior, Abba Moro, said that the Federal Government would continue to develop modern fire service stations to mitigate fire disasters and safeguard critical national assets and human lives.

“It is against this backdrop that government has continued to partner with the private sector and NGOs to lessen or ameliorate the consequences of such disasters on the people,” he said.

President Jonathan added that government would also ensure synergy between the federal fire service and their states counterparts.

Grand Patron of the association and former National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Bamanga Tukur, lamented that many Nigerians had not accorded the right importance to fire safety issues, hence the increasing wave of fire disasters in some areas.

“Severally, we were caught unawares by fire outbreaks and many people never prepared for it.

“During the September 11, 2001 attack on the US, it was the gallant fire fighters that saved many of the lives at Ground Zero on that day,” he said.


Chris Kehinde Nwandu is the Editor In Chief of CKNNEWS || He is a Law graduate and an Alumnus of Lagos State University, Lead City University Ibadan and Nigerian Institute Of Journalism || With over 2 decades practice in Journalism, PR and Advertising, he is a member of several Professional bodies within and outside Nigeria || Member: Institute Of Chartered Arbitrators ( UK ) || Member : Institute of Chartered Mediators And Conciliation || Member : Nigerian Institute Of Public Relations || Member : Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria || Fellow : Institute of Personality Development And Customer Relationship Management || Member and Chairman Board Of Trustees: Guild Of Professional Bloggers of Nigeria

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