By Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
After three years of legal tussle over the eligibility of shop owners at Wuye Ultramodern Market, market women and men, as well as shop owners have started counting their losses as the protracted legal battle between the shop owners and some aggrieved persons caused them loss of over N9billion.
The market was allocated to market women and men that were initially trading at Bakassi market close to NNPC mega station in 2002 and were given allocation letter by the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) to relocate them to the new Wuye market.
The project for the construction of the new market was awarded to All Purpose Shelter under a Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement.
Under the arrangement, a list of eligible allotees were given to the developer by the FCDA , and the allotees were asked to pay for the development of the market in three tranches, with the first payment being 50 per cent of the total sum and then the other 25% twice.
While some of the market men and women, as well as shop owners complied with the arrangement, some aggrieved members didn’t, claiming that the FCT authority had promised to build them a new market without them paying a penny; this therefore led to the legal battle between those that paid and those that didn’t upon the completion of the market.
Speaking to Journalists in Abuja, a member of the Legal team, Barr. Rotimi Ojegbile, who is also a shop owner said: “it is very sad that having committed so much money running into millions of naira, you have been deprived, some borrowed money, some access funds through other means, they have been deprived of enjoying the fruit of their labours for years.”
He added that, “shop owners spent between N3.2million depending on the type of shop you want, there is N4.4million, it is in various categories, we have lost billions of naira, if you look at what has happened because you are looking at an investment more than N3billion through people’s funds, contributions and all of that, and you are expecting that to generate in triple fold, looking at N9 billion in generation of revenue which is what has been lost over the years,” Ojegbile lamented.
However, the judgement delivered by Justice O.A Musa of the FCT High Court, Wuse division has now made it possible for the shop owners who have fulfilled the conditions laid out under the PPP arrangement to possess their shops.
Ojegbile said: “The law abiding shop owners of Wuye Ultramodern Market in furtherance of the judgement have come to take possessions of their shops having complied with the conditions of possession which is; they must have a letter of allocation from FCDA, they must have paid for the development of the market.
“Those that have the original letter of allocation which is provisional and having satisfied the conditions by paying for the development of the market are the ones that have come to take possession of the market so that the market can come alive…
“Some of these groups complied in addition to their letter of allocation and they paid for the development of the market, while others decided not to pay because they claimed the government promised to build the market free of charge for them which never happen.
“So, they went to court and praying the court to grant certain orders and releases…,that the developer should not ask them to pay any money; that they should be allowed to come to the market and possess shop without the developer collecting any money from them again. The court now decline that prayer and said that there is no way the court will make such an order because that would mean that they should not pay grant rent and other statutory charges, but the court directed that they should be allowed to possess shops, but not without fulfilling that condition,” Ojegbile stressed.
He to regretted that the aggrieved persons only copied the aspect of the judgement that favoured them and started using that for propaganda and distortion of the truth in the media.
He revealed that though FCDA gave 5,600 list of allotees, but the Department of Development Control (DDC) only approved 1,600 shops, which now forced them to apply the rule of first come, first serve, adding that presently a total of 1, 250 shops have been allocated to the rightful owners.
In order to ensure that the court judgement is fully effected, the Commissioner of Police, FCT command has however deployed a team of mobile policemen to market to avoid any breakdown of law and orders.