By NewsCritic Reporters
As traders and business owners at Umuwaya Road/ Isi-Gate Umuahia groan under the demolition of their shops by the Ministry of Trade and Investment, the former Transition Committee Deputy Chairman of Umuahia North LGA, Chief Eze Okwulehie has threatened to Petition the relevant authorities over the partial destruction of his building at No 2 Item Street Umuahia, by the Chief Sunny Nwakudo led demolition team.
The NewsCritic reports that following the expiration of the deadline for traders at the busy Isi-Gate Umuahia to relocate to the new Relief Market at Amuzukwu or move to the Main Market Ubani, the government demolition bulldozer at Midnight on Thursday, January 3rd, 2020 visited the Isi-Gate area and demolished structures and shops leaving many shop owners stranded and goods worth millions of Naira carted away.
However, when this reporter visited the Isi-Gate area today it was discovered that not only did the bulldozer clear the make-shift market at Isi-Gate, it also went further to knock down some shops and fence of buildings at Item Street, Warri road and other adjoining streets, thereby expanding the scope of the demolition exercise which many thought was just for those trading at the railway and Owerri Road axis of the Isi-Gate.
The said one storey building which was partly destroyed by the demolition team houses many businesses, including boutiques and has been standing there for the past 30-years without any problem with the government, until midnight yesterday when the Ministry of Trade and Investment headed by Dr Cosmos Ndukwe sent its bulldozers to clear the Isi-Gate of petty traders.
Some traders who met this reporter at the scene of the incident accused the government team led by Sunny Nwakudo and Ogunji of looting and selective demolition exercise of some structures belonging to perceived political enemies and competitors.
For instance, the traders wondered why the Dr Uche Ogah Campaign Organisation located near the other buildings destroyed was not touched. Also is the Peace Mass Transit and the RTC among others which they alleged were protected by the team because they were able to settle them.
The St Peter’s Presbyterian Church along Umuwaya road was touched by the bulldozer, while the Methodist Church was spared by the bulldozer our investigations revealed. Angry residents said the team deviated from their mandate to pursue traders at the Rail side to embark on demolition of structures at the streets located around the Isi-Gate area.
Traders worst hit by the destruction according to our findings are the GSM accessories shops, cloths and bags sellers, and those who deal on Rice and wrist watches among other items.
Allegations of stealing is rife as angry shop owners accuse the team of stealing from their shops before knocking it down. They said the team had over 30 people with them, whose work is to loot and cart away goods belonging to traders.
Abia government said it wants to beautify the Isi-Gate axis a major entry point to Umuahia, the reason why it relocated the traders at the rail line side.
At the time of filing this report, the former deputy Chairman Umuahia North, Eze Okwulehie said some of the people that were involved in the wicked destruction of part of his building have been identified and would be made to tell the level of their involvement in the act. He said the destruction of his building by the team is politically motivated and meant to suffer him and his business.