HURIWA Condemns Harassment of Abuja Electronic Traders by Soldiers

Chuks Okocha in Abuja 

The Human Right Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has condemned the sealing up of 

 Banex Plaza, an electronics and telecommunications gadget market in Abuja.

HURIWA recalled that Banex Plaza, an electronics and telecommunications gadget market in Abuja, is still under lock and key.

According to a statement by the National coordinator of the group, Emmanuel Onwubiko, “Some traders who assembled at a distance from the plaza were seen leaving after waiting for hours.

“None of them agreed to speak with our correspondents but they were heard lamenting the cost implication of having the plaza shut on a major day like Monday.

“Trouble started when thugs beat up some soldiers who had a minor disagreement with a trader in the plaza.

“The trader had reportedly sold a bad phone to someone who invited soldiers. Rather than resolve the issue amicably, the trader reportedly invited thugs who assaulted the uniform men.

“They descended on at least two soldiers and another man in mufti. The thugs who broke into groups slapped, kicked and beat up the soldiers,” Onwubiko said. 

The group said although the police stepped in to resolve the situation, soldiers later stormed the plaza, forcing traders to shut down immediately.

He explained that some videos on social media showed soldiers chasing a crowd of people and punishing a few others.

Some troops also patrolled the plaza in Wuse 2, Abuja, in their vans.

According to Onwubiko, the army has been silent on the action at the plaza as Onyema Nwachukwu has not made an official comment as of the time of filing this report.

HURIWA condemned the presence of armed soldiers which scared traders from going about their legitimate businesses. 

HURIWA said: “If hoodlums or even one or few traders have a disagreement that resulted into a scuffle with a soldier or two soldiers, why should armed troops be deployed to Barnex plaza extra-judicially to harass, intimidate and discourage fearful traders from going about their businesses? Why should Nigeria Army permit a primitive resort to self-help?

“Is Nigeria under a jack boot military dictatorship or what? Why can’t the Army let the police of Nigeria handle the matter since it is not like a war has broken out between battalions of armed soldiers and terrorists but the genesis of the conflict as reported by the media is merely a disagreement between a buyer of phone who incidentally is a soldier or soldiers and some persons which then snowballed into fracas in which the soldiers were reportedly overpowered.

 “So why will the Army deploy armed soldiers to cordon off the entire business community? This is totally unprofessional and uncalled for. 

“We urge the traders to sue the Chief of Army Staff in the competent court of law immediately and claim damages of N1 billion Naira because soldiers unlawfully blocked legitimate business operators from operating their legitimate businesses just because one or two soldiers were beaten up by some rascals”., the group stressed

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