Irate youths teamed up with traders whose shops were affected in the ongoing demolition of illegal structures on Minna roads by Niger State Urban Development, NSUDB, on Tuesday to attack a house belonging to Alhaji Ahmed Ketso, the state’s Deputy Governor.
One of the shop owners, Mallam Muritala Ahmed, claimed they were angry because the state government did not notify them before embarking on the demolition.
Ahmed said that NSUDB officials simply asked him to move out of his shop and that they 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 level, I am left with nothing right now,” he lamented.
Mr Moses Dunia, another trader who was affected by the demolition exercise, alleged that the state government protected the house of the state deputy governor, who built on the same lane, thereby making life hard for the common people.
When contacted, Hajiya Maimuna Kolo, the Chief Press Secretary to the Deputy Governor, she said that the youths were angry because the NSUDB demolished the illegal structures in the area.
“They (youths) 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,” Kolo said.
However, the Acting General Manager, Niger State Urban Development Board (NSUDB), Mr Muhammed Bawa, told newsmen in Minna that the exercise, which started from the state capital, would extend to other urban cities 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.
Bawa said that the NSUDB gave prior notice to those who erected illegal structures to remove them, contrary to 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 government is concern 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.
The Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) in the state, Mr Nas Abdullahi, said that the some staff of the NSUDB were attacked by some youths during the demolition exercise.
“It is true that the youths in the area attacked the officials of the board and injured a driver,” he disclosed.
Abdullahi said that the driver was promptly taken to a hospital for treatment.