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Shops razed, vehicles destroyed as Okada riders, Abuja traders clash

There was tension at the Deidei area of the Federal Capital Territory on Wednesday over the death of a yet-to-be-identified woman.

Our correspondent learned that the death of the woman, said to be of Igbo extraction, snowballed into a clash between Hausa commercial motorcyclists and Igbo building material dealers in the area.

We gathered that many vehicles were destroyed during the crisis, as bonfires made by rioters on the Zuba Expressway obstructed vehicular movements in the area for hours.

One of our correspondents observed that business activities in the community were paralyzed due to the clash.

As of the time of leaving the area around 5 pm, the atmosphere was still tense despite the presence of military personnel, police officers, men of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, and vigilantes.

A trader, who identified himself simply as Okechukwu, said his shop was among many set ablaze during the fracas.

He said, “Around 2pm, an Okada man carried an Igbo woman. On their way to the market, an accident happened and the woman died; nothing happened to the rider.

Unfortunately, the Igbo were there; they challenged the Okada rider that why would the woman die here. From there, a riot broke out and a lot of vehicles were damaged and people injured. They went to the Igbo market to scatter the market; they burned some of the shops. We are calling on the government to help us, as we don’t know the direction things will go right now.”

A commercial motorcyclist, who spoke in Hausa, blamed the riot on the Igbo traders in the market.

He said, “There was a timber shed; an Okada man was riding with an Igbo lady on his Okada; a driver knocked them down and the lady died. So, when the Igbo came and saw that the lady was dead, they began to go after Hausa Okada riders. That was what led to the crisis.”

A resident, who gave his name as Silas, told our correspondent that the incident obstructed vehicular movements for hours before security operatives restored normalcy in the area.

Silas said, “It all began when the Igbo questioned the death of the woman and were asking what to do about the situation, then the Hausa came out and started saying they could not do anything about it and that the woman was dead already. This further infuriated the Igbo and they started exchanging words. They burnt tires on the road, damaged cars and obstructed vehicular movements.”

The Federal Capital Territory Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Josephine Adeh, said order had been restored to the market.

She said, “Following the outbreak of civil unrest at Building Material Market in Dei Dei around 11.30am today (Wednesday), comprehensive deployment of tactical and intelligence assets of the command led by the Commissioner of Police, Babaji Sunday, drifted swiftly to the scene to ensure that the unrest was nipped in the bud and managed, thereby forestalling the destruction of private and government infrastructure, loss of lives and property and to restore normalcy to the situation.

“Our officers, in a concerted effort with other state apparatus, upon arrival at the scene, managed the uproar, preventing further disintegration of law and order.”

Adeh, while urging residents to shun violence, said the command was investigating the incident.

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