Apparently out of frustration, some businessmen and artisans under the aegis of Apo Trades Association on Tuesday, staged a protest march to the Abuja Metropolitan Management Council (AMMC) offices at Wuse, Zone 6, Abuja, demanding the release of land documents for a new site said to have been approved for them at Wasa District for their business operations since 2011.
The traders, who were seen carrying placards with different inscriptions, told The Nigerian Times that they had spent over N60 million to acquire the land and were tired of being deceived by the authorities for fours in tow.
Some of their placards carried inscriptions like: “Pls Coordinator,(Referring to the AMMC Coordinator) we beg you in the name of God, we need our land documents”, “We started this journey since 2011, and up till now we are still hearing stories, pls we need our documents now”, and “Since January 2014 your directors promised to show us our site, up till now nothing, pls we have spent over N60,000,000.00.”
Lamenting their plight, Chairman of the Association, Chief Chimezie Ifeh, said since 2006 they have been facing all sorts of harassment from the Development Control authorities who said they were operating illegally at Apo, where they were.
Following this, Ifeh said sometime in 2011, the association wrote a letter to the FCT Minister, who approved the allocation of land for them at Wasa District.
He said the Minister had directed the Director of the Department of Urban and Regional Planning to provide the site for them.
“We have artisans and other people dealing in motor spare parts, auto mechanics, amongst others, who built shops at the Apo site, which were demolished in 2006, when Development Control only gave 24 hours to vacate the place, and since then they have not given us any other place.
“Since then, we have been going there, discussing with them but because of the usual non-chalant character of government work, they keep wasting time on the matter, but unfortunately for us we have gone so far. We have spent a lot of money on it.
“Why we came here to protest is because the time given to us has elapsed. We had taken them to the National Assembly, in 2013, and they gave us three months that the documents will be ready; and the three months expired on September last year, and since then we have been going to the Department of Urban and Regional Planning, asking them how far with the matter,” he said.
Continuing, the chairman said: “Although, we are still operating at the old site, but sometime this year the Development Control wanted to demolish it and we said no, because the agreement we reached at the National Assembly was that they cannot remove us there until they have given us a permanent place.[share_this_post]
“They said we should be patient, and we continued being patient, but whenever we met them, they would tell us another story. We went to Urban and Regional Planning yesterday and they told us that all the land documents are here, and when we got here they told us that the documents are not with them.”
Addressing journalists after a meeting with the leaders of the association, Head, Public Relations, AMMC, Mrs. Grace Zamani, denied that the said land documents were in her agency’s custody.
According to her, the traders and artisans were misinformed on the matter, saying the AMMC has already assured them that whenever the land documents got to it, they would be called upon to collected them.
“Until then, nobody is going to do anything to them, as everything has to be completed, so they have to be patient,” she added.