Some local traders in Akure, the Ondo State capital, have condemned the illegal demolition of their ‘containers and goods’ during a midnight operation by a Special Task Force acting under the instruction of the Ondo State Ministry of Transport.
During an interview with a SaharaReporters correspondent, the traders accused officials of the Ministry of Transport, headed by its embattled Commissioner Nicholas Tofowomo, of destroying their businesses and forcefully evicting their goods without any pre-notice from the State government.
The traders complained that the action by the Ministry was an act that negated their right to trade without constituting nuisance adding that the destruction on their goods would send many of them into an untold hardship.
The furious traders clarified that there was no notice to prepare them beforehand, noting that the Special Task Force Team should have communicated to them their intention before carrying out the dastardly act.
“This is an act of wickedness on the part of the State government through its Ministry of Transport. Just look at the way they destroyed peoples’ goods and containers which some bought with their pension fund. We have lost millions of naira here. Mimiko is a disgrace to this State,” a trader said.
However, a government official said the traders were duly notified before the destruction on their goods stressing that the State government was sad with the littering of major roads by containers in the State.
“They were served notice around May of this year and its normal to caught them on aware. What we are doing is to beautify the State because we don’t want any container littering our State capital. Let them go and rent the lock up shops provided by the State government” the official said.
Midnight travelers told our correspondent that the vandals came with bulldozers escorted by stern looking armed security officers from aJoint Task Force around 1:30 am Sunday morning.
SaharaReporters gathered that traders that were mostly affected by the wanton destruction trade at Kajola junction on Oda road, and Ado Motor park en-route to the Benin expressway.
Already, a human right lawyer in the State, Titiloye Charles, has joined other activists in the State to challenge the wanton destruction on the traders’ goods and accused the State government of theft of an ordinary poor man.
“We are not in a military era. How can you enter private land and demolish container in the dead of night and use Government Hilux vans to steal Traders’ goods. Poor men can no longer sell goods in container on their land because of Shoprite. These impunities in Ondo State must stop,” he said.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) in the State chapter has also criticized the demolition exercise claiming that over N100 million worth of traders’ goods was looted in the midnight operation by the Ministry of Transport.
The Party said in a statement issued by its Director of Publicity, Steve Otaloro, and obtained by SaharaReporters, that the illegal demolition was carried out to further impoverish the poor traders at the expense of the new shopping mall in the State.
Mr. Otaloro said the actions of the State Ministry of Transport intended to banish the traders out of business and pave way for the Shoprite mall being promoted by the State government.
He added that it was appalling that the government has since not made any statement on the illegal and inhuman demolition carried out in a gangster manner at midnight on private property by the State Ministry of Transport.