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Heavy crisis is brewing in the newly established Enugu International Building Materials Market, otherwise known as New Kenyatta, Ugwuaji, Enugu over the alleged continuous brutality and humiliation of traders by soldiers posted to guard the market.
To stem the ugly development, stakeholders in the market, have called on the General Officer Commanding 82 Division of Nigeria Army, Enugu, asking for a redress, warning that such abuses might result in confrontation and protests.
The Eastern Updates gathered that the developers of the market had brought the soldiers to guard the market and ‘to protect his interest.’
However, traders told reporters that the soldiers had since gone beyond the reason they were brought to the market and started molesting and humiliating the traders.
A trader, who pleaded anonymity said: ‘Since we relocated to this market last year, soldiers have been the ones guarding the market. But, recently the soldiers have resorted to brutalizing the traders and often openly humiliate people on account of what they consider insubordination or something.’
‘We have a rule that the market must close by 6 pm. But you know that usually, what we used to do is those who leave the market after 6 pm, pay certain fines to the security committee in the market.
‘But the soldiers have since taken it upon themselves to be flogging people who were not able to close shops before 6 pm. Heavy brutality is what people are facing in the hands of the soldiers.
‘Again, last Thursday, a trader with having running stomach had gone to the unoccupied shops towards the end of the market to ease himself. But one of the soldiers saw him and started flogging him like a criminal, stripped him, and still forced him to use his bare hands to pack the mess.
‘The soldier was not done yet, he still paraded the trader within the market with the shit in his bare hands above his head. He ensured the trader stood in the road with the mess in his hands for over one hour. This is the worst humiliation anyone can face.’
The trader disclosed that they had asked their market leaders to find out why the soldiers should continue to be allowed to be in the marketplace, “but the developers insisted that the soldiers were brought at their own instance.
‘I want to let you know that the way the soldiers are going, they would one day kill someone in the market and you can’t guarantee what will be the consequences because the traders are really angry’.
Another trader also told our correspondent that the soldiers were always fond of threatening to shoot anyone who tried to stand up to his right in the market.
‘There is nobody in this market who is a miscreant. But the soldiers keep treating people as if they are ordinary touts.
‘Unfortunately, all the people we elected to lead us in the market seem to be comfortable with the way the soldiers are brutalising us at any slightest provocation.
‘They would always threaten to shoot anyone who complains openly to them.
‘So, if nothing is done this early, they will kill someone here one day and possibly tag the person as a criminal or IPOB ESN as they always do.
‘So, I’m calling on the developers and the Commander 82 Division of the Nigerian Army to act fast before these soldiers turn our peaceful marketplace into a slaughterhouse.’
All efforts to reach the developers or market leaders for reaction were unsuccessful.
But the spokesman of the 82 Division of Nigeria Army, Enugu, Major Eromosele Unuakhalu, said he would find out and respond appropriately.