Soldiers beat up Abuja motorists over parking
FCT officials backed by a team of military men yesterday in Abuja brutalised motorists and marked their windshields with red paint for alleged wrong parking.
An Abuja high court last week ruled the ‘Park and Pay’ scheme operated by the FCTA as illegal.
Justice Peter Affen of Apo division in his ruling said, “there is no law made either by the National Assembly or the Abuja municipal area council (AMAC) supporting the policy.”
The FCT minister Bala Mohammed Monday suspended the scheme following the court judgement.
But yesterday officials of the Abuja Development Control backed by a team of soldiers and air force men harassed motorists and marked their vehicles with red paint in a manner not seen before.
What shocked the victims and even members of the public was that the cars that were so marked were parked at locations provided for the ‘Park and Pay’ scheme.
In Utako and Jabi districts residents wondered why the military is involved in operations that are purely the duties of the police.
The notice on the marked vehicles reads, “You are advised to stop parking your vehicle at nondesignated location(s) within the Federal Capital City failing which appropriate sanctions will be imposed on any defaulter.
“There will be no compensation for defacement or damages to any vehicle in the course of enforcement.”
A resident who witnessed the operation asked: “Are we terrorists that FCDA has to come out in such combatant mood, beating just about anyone who dares to ask questions? So now we have soldiers as FCDA contractors who instead of looking for terrorists are now more interested in money spinning illegal ventures of government?”
Our reporters observed that the defaced vehicles were parked by the side of the road clearly marked for parking with white paint.
Anthony Okonkwo, a witness, said, “We all know the truth. They will never admit what they did; they will start saying that someone tried to fight them. They will try to legalise what they did. They are clearly out for extortion and FCDA is aware of this.”
One of the victims was manhandled, along O.P. Fingesi street, in Utako at about 4 pm for taking pictures of the enforcement activities.
Another witness recounted that the team was defacing parked vehicles furiously when they sighted a man taking their pictures from a balcony of one of the houses on the street.
The soldiers forcefully ejected him from his house at No. 3 O.P. Fingesi street, broke his phone and drag him to the street and beat him up.
The Development Control Department then went on seal the building thus preventing other tenants entry.
Emmanuel Inah, a staff of Empire Energy in the building located at No. 4 of the same street, was taken to the hospital for treatment after he was beaten up by the officials for attempting to clean up one of the vehicles defaced with red paint.
“Officials on the enforcement team picked sticks and copper wire and started beating me,” he told Daily Trust.
A female staff of Empire Energy told our reporters that she had to throw herself between Inah and the soldiers to halt the beating.
Public relations officer of the Development Control Department Mr Kalu Emetu did not pick his calls nor replied to a text message sent to his phone.
The Secretary of the FCT Transport Secretariat Mr. Jonathan Ivoke, who was recommended to comment on the incident by the Chief Press Secretary to the FCT Minister, could not be reached.
A house marked by officials of Abuja Metropolitan, Management Council, after soldiers assaulted a man inside the building for photographing the officials marking vehicles parked near the house at O.P.. Fingersi Street in Utako, Abuja yesterday.
One of the vehicles defaced by the FCT officials.