Wuye Mar­ket in fresh bat­tle...

Daily Trust - - PROP­ERTY -

“The de­vel­oper, in­stead of com­ply­ing with judg­ment, they con­tinue sell­ing the shops to the gen­eral pub­lic on be­half of the traders. This is what led to the gath­er­ing you see­ing here. They made ad­ver­tise­ments in the me­dia that peo­ple should come with orig­i­nal of­fer let­ters.”

He said traders were not op­posed to pay­ing charges as stip­u­lated by law like ground rent or ser­vice charge to the de­vel­oper but would op­pose any un­der­hand deals.

Ac­cord­ing to him, the po­lice de­nied them ac­cess to the mar­ket on the in­struc­tion of the woman who is in­volved in the de­vel­op­ment of the mar­ket, us­ing her po­lit­i­cal in­flu­ence.

“What sur­prised us is that even when we came this morn­ing, they did not ad­dress us but were sell­ing the shops to the peo­ple who are not part [ben­e­fi­cia­ries] of the judg­ment. We want gov­ern­ment to come to our aid even as we’re go­ing back to court to let them know that the judg­ment hasn’t been hon­oured,” he said.

An of­fi­cial of All Pur­pose Shel­ter Limited, Mr Folorun­sho Abe­gunle de­nied that the traders were de­nied ac­cess to the mar­ket say­ing man­age­ment wants to ver­ify those claim­ing to have ti­tles. He said the traders had sold their orig­i­nal al­lo­ca­tion pa­pers. “The traders have been col­lect­ing money from peo­ple say­ing they own the mar­ket. The of­fer let­ters given out were 6,000 while the shops are 1,600. How do you al­lo­cate them to such num­bers? They were told that it would be first come first served and 1,200 of shop have al­ready been given out re­main­ing only 400,” Abe­gunle ex­plained. This fig­ure given by Abe­gunle is con­trary fig­ure given on Fe­bru­ary 6, 2014 by mar­ket man­age­ment. His fig­ure on num­ber of traders is also con­trary to what was con­tained in the court judg­ment which gave 706.

A buyer of a shop in the mar­ket who said he is not among the plain­tiffs told our re­porters that he had been given the key to his shop. The trader who re­fused to dis­close his name said he paid N3.2 mil­lion to the de­vel­oper for shop in the mar­ket.

The story Wuye Ul­tra-Modern Mar­ket, Abuja is a Pri­vatePart­ner­ship (PPP) project be­tween FCTA and the All Pur­pose Shel­ter Limited, a com­pany wife of erst­while gov­er­nor of Benue State, Yemisi Suswam has in­ter­est in. The agree­ment was that the All Pur­pose Shel­ter Limited would build the mar­ket and man­age it for the du­ra­tion of the re­ver­sion­ary pe­riod of 13 years then trans­fer to AICL.

The mar­ket was com­mis­sioned by for­mer Pres­i­dent Good­luck Jonathan in com­pany of his wife Pa­tience, for­mer Fed­eral Cap­i­tal Ter­ri­tory (FCT) Min­is­ter Bala Mo­hammed and for­mer Benue State gov­er­nor Gabriel Suswam with his wife Yemisi.

Former FCT Min­is­ter stated that the Wuye Ul­tra-Modern

full Mar­ket is a suc­cess story by the FCTA un­der PPP project ex­e­cu­tion model. Though com­mis­sioned since Feb. 6, 2014, the place has re­mained un­der lock due to in­ter­ven­ing court or­ders. Though the court had re­strained busi­ness ac­tiv­i­ties, Jonathan went ahead to of­fi­cially cut the tape.

In re­sponse to a let­ter from Daily Trust to AICL de­mand­ing rea­sons for non use of the fa­cil­ity, the Le­gal Ad­viser of AICL, Mrs Fran­cisca Ibezim ac­knowl­edged that the prop­erty was un­der en­cum­brances. In a let­ter to Me­dia Trust dated Aug. 13, 2014, Ibezim stated in para­graph seven that the High Court of FCT had since May 22, 2013 “is­sued an in­junc­tion… or­der­ing par­ties to main­tain sta­tus quo with re­gards to the op­er­a­tion of the mar­ket pend­ing the de­ter­mi­na­tion of the said mat­ter”.

The court de­ter­mined the mat­ter on April 29, 2015 fol­low­ing which a war­rant was is­sued. The War­rant for Re­pos­ses­sion of Premises is­sued on June 9, 2015 read: “Plain­tiffs to wit, Den­nis Abah and oth­ers shall take pos­ses­sion of their var­i­ous shops sit­u­ated and ly­ing at Wuye Mar­ket now called Wuye Ul­tra Modern Mar­ket in Wuye District, Abuja.” The war­rant clearly or­dered the de­fen­dants to give the plain­tiffs pos­ses­sion of the shops.

The con­tro­ver­sial mar­ket sits on Plot No.116 Cadas­tral Zone B03. This plot was al­lo­cated to traders when Bakasi Mar­ket was de­mol­ished. Traders were given di­rect al­lo­ca­tions by Aba Gana, the FCT Min­is­ter at the time as com­pen­sa­tion to traders that were dis­placed.

Chair­man Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Nige­rian Traders (NANTs), FCT Chap­ter, Prince Edozie Ugwu said traders were not car­ried along in the Wuye mar­ket project. NANTs is um­brella body for all traders in Nige­ria. He ex­plained, “Even the day that mar­ket was com­mis­sioned traders weren’t aware. Traders aren’t car­ried along even in the al­lo­ca­tion of shops in that mar­ket. How the al­lo­ca­tion was done, traders don’t know. The com­mis­sion­ing, just like ev­ery other per­son saw on tele­vi­sion, that was how traders also saw on tele­vi­sion that that mar­ket was com­mis­sioned.”

Dur­ing Nasir el-Ru­fai’s time as FCT Min­is­ter, these al­lo­ca­tions by Gana were nul­li­fied. Ac­cord­ing to NANTs chair­man, “We re­ceived com­plaints and we wrote FCTA but we got no re­ply. We sought meet­ing the min­is­ter. Each time we went there they would tell us they would call us till that place was com­mis­sioned. A lot of things went wrong.”

The multi-bil­lion naira Wuye Ul­tra-Modern Mar­ket with 2,000 shop­ping fa­cil­ity was built on 7.3 hectares of land. This is the only mar­ket in the whole of Wuye dis­trict. FCTA’s prin­ci­pal role was the pro­vi­sion of land and pri­mary in­fra­struc­ture while the de­vel­oper pro­vided project fi­nance and the tech­ni­cal ca­pac­ity for the project im­ple­men­ta­tion.

On Sept. 18, 2013, AICL was served a Writ of Sum­mons com­menced by the ear­lier al­lot­tees. Yet the mar­ket was com­mis­sioned by the pres­i­dent on Feb. 6, 2014.

Be­fore the open­ing cer­e­mony, mem­bers of the pub­lic were made to put mil­lions of naira into the project to be­come shop own­ers even as orig­i­nal ti­tle hold­ers had not been given their shops yet. One prospec­tive shop owner said she paid a non-re­fund­able N50,000 to All Pur­pose Shel­ters Limited to get an ap­pli­ca­tion form to fill to en­able her get a shop. She paid an­other N4.4mil­lion to the same firm for Shop Type C in the mar­ket. By the time she was do­ing the pay­ment, she was as­sured that the mar­ket would be com­mis­sioned soon.

All Pur­pose Shel­ter Limited was un­known firm un­til the Wuye Mar­ket cri­sis blew up. The com­pany’s con­struc­tion site is not known ei­ther. Our re­porter who checked the com­pany’s web­site last week could not pin-point what show All Pur­pose Shel­ter Limited as a firm that has been do­ing big con­tracts. Its ad­dress as shown on the web­site is Plot 1134, Aminu Kano Cres­cent, Wuse II, FCT, Abuja, Nige­ria.

Yemisi with her hus­band Gabriel Suswam in a file photo

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