Residents and traders in Mammy Market, Effurum Barracks, Warri in Delta State, have lamented how the Nigerian Army personnel and commanders assault and extort money from them on a regular basis.
The soldiers, according to the traders and residents, make millions of naira monthly from them by subjecting them to various payments and contributions with bogus reasons.
Speaking with SaharaReporters, a resident narrated that from time to time, the Commanding Officer appoints an officer they call Sarki, who takes control of the entire area occupied by about 500,000 families.
According to the source, every newly appointed Sarki enters into an agreement with the Command Officer to be remitting from N7million and above every month, adding that the current Sarki pays the army’s Command Officer about N10million.
The Sarki also uses the civilians who are living in the Mammy market to fulfill his agreement by subjecting them to different illegal and unjustifiable payments and contributions.
“This is no longer joke for those of us living in the Mammy market, Effurun Barracks, Warri. We civilians are living in agony. We are forced to pay different taxes. All occupants pay for road construction every year. We pay electricity bills every month even when we don’t consume light. They are using the civilians to make money.”
The source said every room had a fixed electricity bill of N1,500, whether there was light or not. Also, every room pays N500 monthly for what was called a land pass, while some occupants were forced to up to N2,500.
“This is different from house rent because we pay rent to landlords. The landlords also pay electricity bills and land passes to the Sarki. Last two weeks, they said they wanted to buy fire extinguishers and they made each room pay N500.
“Recently also, they came to meet one resident but she was not around; they shut her store ad nailed the doors. She returned and went to the Sarki but while she tried to explain that she was not around, the army personnel slapped her and beat her mercilessly.
“They also make us to buy a card at N300 every year which they use to collect the light bill and the land pass. Depression affects thousands of occupants, including me all because we are forced to pay different bills under the Nigerian Army laws. Sometimes if we do not pay any of the bills, they would remove our zincs.
“The army is making millions every month by taxing the civilians. If you complain, they will seize your properties. So many things we are facing here,” the source lamented.
Meanwhile, amid all the extortions, the source said they did not have good roads, potable water, or even toilets in the market.