BY BENEDICT NWACHUKWU, ABUJA
In the aftermath of the bloody clash between traders in Dei Dei Market and commercial motorcyclists popularly called Okada riders operating in that area of the Federal Capital Territory, observers have blamed the minister of the FCT for being partisan in his intervention.
Frontline civil society group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, has asked the minister of FCT, Muhammad Bello, to also ban the operation of commercial motorcyclists in Dei-Dei and Kubwa areas for justice, equity and fairness or re-open Dei- Dei market and find a way to rebuild the infrastructure destroyed by the rampaging commercial motorcyclists in the recent fracas.
The Rights group in its statement said it is offensive to the principle of natural justice that two parties were involved in a fracas but the authority rather than make peace and create harmony and reconciliation decided to back one of the combatants, allegedly because of religious considerations.
HURIWA said the role of a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is that of service without bitterness or sectionalism since ministers are appointed for all of Nigeria.
“We do not want to believe that it is true that the FCT Minister who is a Nigerian will adopt controversial and unnatural steps that offend the commercial interests of his fellow citizens and let off the motorcyclists who are largely illegal aliens from Niger Republic, Chad only because traders at Dei Dei market that fought with Okada riders are mostly from Southern Nigeria.
“We call on President Muhammadu Buhari who constitutionally is the governor of FCT to ask his subordinate the FCT Minister to adopt solutions that won’t be seen as favouring a party in a fight by two parties only because the favoured party
“Leadership must be altruistic, nationalistic, just, fair and equitable and the Minister who has worked harmoniously with peoples of all faith systems and ethnicity for years, should not now be remotely connected to this sort of story of open but shameful partiality and crude bias.”
HURIWA recalled that the FCT Minister had ordered the immediate closure of the Dei-Dei International Building Material Market following last Wednesday’s violence which claimed four lives.
While inspecting the scene of the incident with FCT Commissioner of Police Sunday Babaji, the Director State Security Services, alongside other sister security agencies and top officials of the FCT Administration, the Minister directed the indefinite closure of the market, directed the community and the market leaders to fish out the hoodlums responsible for the crisis.
Describing the Minister’s action as offensive to Constitutionalism, equity, fairness and equality before the law of natural justice and respect to the human rights of all, HURIWA has asked the minister to rescind his decision.
Meanwhile, a top civil servant in the FCT Administration, who pleaded anonymity, told The Point that there have been moves to ban the commercial motorcyclists from operating in the FCT and its satellite towns, particularly those operating without being duly registered because of their excesses.
Our source further disclosed that the FCTA Transport Secretariat has been working on the modalities to get it done in a manner that those doing genuine business will not be made to suffer for the crimes of others.
“All the security agencies are up and doing, but I must tell you, these Okada riders are really a thorn in the flesh of this administration in the FCTA. Some are accusing the minister of favouring them because they are mostly Moslems but that is far from the truth.
If you know Mallam Bello very well, he is a man who does not discriminate against anyone based on religion, ethnicity or party affiliation.
“The major problem is that indiscipline has eaten deep into our system and at its peak. For many of these Okada riders, the government is looking for a way to help them but the bad eggs have spoiled their business. In any case, something has to be done and fast too.”