Crisis erupted yesterday at the New Artisan Market, Enugu, which was shut by the Enugu State government for more than four years. Many vehicles and shops were either burnt or demolished and gunshots boomed in the market. It was not clear at press time what triggered the violent crisis. Some witnesses said there was an attempt by government officials to demolish the market, which was fiercely resisted by the Hausa/Fulani traders. Aside guns, other dangerous weapons were freely used. The government officials and a couple of policemen who accompanied them were chased away.
The government bulldozer was abandoned by the fleeing officials. The gun-wielding traders blocked the NNPC end of the Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway, halting vehicular movement. They also set up bonfires on the expressway. The Nigerian Army personnel, deployed to quell the uprising, shot sporadically into the air. Meanwhile, the Enugu Capital Territory Development Authority (ECTDA) has distanced itself from the fracas at the market, saying its personnel were not involved in any demolition at the market.
The Executive Chairman of ECTDA, Dr. Josef Onoh, said in a statement, said he was not aware of any enforcement at the market. He said: “Attention of Enugu Capital Territory Development Authority (ECTDA) has been drawn to the authority’s name being peddled in connection with the Thursday, April 22, 2021 incident at the closed New Artisan Market.
“Recall that the state government had in some years past shut down the New Artisan Market. “ECTDA has been inundated with calls on inquiries regarding a demolition said to have been carried out at the previous market. “The agency, however, wishes to state that it is not aware of any enforcement at the New Artisan Market, nor has it received any petition to that effect. “Let it also be known that the ECTDA was not part of whatever activity that took place at New Artisan Market and does not have any business with whatsoever activity there.” The state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), ASP Daniel Ndukwe, did not pick his calls to speak on the crisis. The market was shut following incessant crisis and the resultant death of some people, including a police officer in the market.