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El-Rufai: Kaduna traders protesting are dispersed by the police

by Salami Azeez

Traders in the Kasuwan Barci market in Kaduna’s Tudun Wada neighborhood battled with police after staging a demonstration to demand that Governor Nasir El-Rufai follow a court decision and compensate them for their market stores that were demolished.

The state government has been ordered by the Kaduna State High Court to restore each of the market vendors in Kasuwan Barci, and the vendors have urged the government to recognize the authority that has been established and follow the court’s ruling.

However, a demonstration that the traders planned to make their point was put on hold when a police detachment allegedly told the demonstrators that they had been given the go-ahead to end the protest.

“Some officers and  men of the Police force who were at the scene of the protest immediately  dispersed the shop owners from addressing their members and the journalists .The Police pulled down all the canopies arranged for the event along Kasuwan Barci axis of Dutsima road, Tudun Wada,” an eye witness told journalists.

“This led to a clash with operatives  of the Kaduna State Vigilante Service (KADVIS),who had earlier given security cover to the traders. The police resorted to  teargassing the crowd in a show of superiority, but few hours later, the shop owners regrouped and  addressed the press,” he said.

Recall that the court had ordered the Kaduna state government to provide the shop owners with adequate compensation after ruling in favor of the plaintiffs (owners of stores) on September 28, 2022.

In March 2020, after the state government had assumed control of the market, the old market building was demolished, affecting roughly 4,600 store owners.

Dissatisfied with the state government’s decision, the traders of the Kasuwan Barci and Raga markets, which are both located in the Kaduna city, asked the court to clarify the scope of the state government’s authority over the markets.

In contrast, the presiding judge, Justice A. Edward Andow, stated in his ruling that the Kaduna state government lacked the constitutional authority to takeover the Kasuwan Barci market in the manner in which it did.

“The Kaduna State government is in breach of the constitutional provision vesting the creation and operation of  markets in the local govts by usurping and arrogating to itself the clear powers and function of the local government,” the court ruling stated.

Alhaji Abdullahi Maikano Kaya-kaya, the chairman of the store owners, claimed that after getting the vacation notice, the shop owners requested a meeting with the state governor, which was granted, but they were unable to come to an arrangement.

He claimed that they pleaded with the Governor to either allow them to construct the shops themselves using the approved government building plan or to provide them with another location to move into while the government rebuilt the shops because the Governor promised to return the shops to their rightful owners. However, the state government rejected their proposal, leading the shop owners to seek legal redress.

“As shop owners, up until the Kasuwan bacci market was demolished, we were up to date with revenue payment. Kasuwan bacci is a market that is fully managed by shop owners because all the shops in the market were built by individuals unlike the other markets like; Abubakar Gumi and Veterinary markets that were built and leased out by the  state government.”

“Our expectation of government was that, since she is aware that we built our shops ourselves on the land given to us by government, they should have either relocated the market or have adequately compensated us but instead, they ignored us and went ahead to demolish the shops”.

“It is our prayer that Kaduna state government will respect this judgement by reinstating us back into the market and compensate us accordingly especially because, many shop owners have died, some are sick, while a few have relocated to other towns due to the demolition,” Alhaji Kaya-kaya has said.

The Kaduna State High Court, presided over by Justice Edward Andow, has requested that Nasir El-rufai, the state governor, restore 4,600 business owners in Kasuwar Barci and compensate them for tearing down their stores in 2017.

On May 9, 2017, the day the state government granted the business owners a 10-day notice to leave, the plaintiffs filed a lawsuit in the High Court.

However, dissatisfied with the state government’s response, the traders went to court to ask how much authority the state had over the markets.

The aggrieved traders are asking the court to interpret the state government’s action, which was taken hastily despite a court order requiring parties to maintain the status quo. The state government issued a vague quit notice to the market’s occupants and then proceeded to tear down their shops, supported by proofs of ownership.

Justice Edward Andow held that the Kaduna State administration had violated the constitutional clause entrusting local governments with the construction and management of markets by usurping such authorities and assuming them as its own.

Justice Andow insisted that the state government lacks the powers to do what it did,. “The state government should immediately reinstate the 4,600 shop owners back to their shops and pay adequate compensation to them for their losses,” he said.

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