An attempt by the Enugu State Government to demolish the New Artisan Market in the state capital on Thursday almost became bloody as Hausa cattle traders reportedly resisted it using Ak-47 guns to chase away government officials and the police.
The Hausa cattle traders were also said to have seized two bulldozers and destroyed a police Hilux van in the process, while the police and the government officials took to their heels.
The state government, according to reports, had gone to the market to demolish it following an order of the State High Court, which was said to have declared the market a security threat because of its proximity to the Government House.
According to an eyewitness, Sampson Okorie, qouted in the report, the destroyed Hilux vehicle was abandoned by the police, who ran for their life when they could not escape with it.
He said: “I was opposite the market when four police vehicles with about 10 policemen arrived at the place with people suspected to be government officials. Earlier in the day, two bulldozers were deployed to the area.
“Shortly after the police arrived, there were gunshots in the air. I came out from the shop where I was and saw people scampering for safety. The policemen were also running.
“The next thing I saw was gun wielding traders, who came out and blocked the NNPC end of the Enugu-Port Harcourt expressway and stopping vehicular movement, just as they set up bonfires along the expressway. When the atmosphere became tense, I moved out of the area.”
The development was confirmed by the state Commissioner of Police, Mohammed Aliyu, who described the action of the traders as unfortunate.
According to Aliyu, the traders had a meeting with the State Governor, Mr Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, on Wednesday night, when they agreed to move out of the market on Thursday.