Protests broke out today along Kubwa Express Road in Galadima, a section of Abuja, after a bulldozer being used by a demolition squad of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) killed a child. The bulldozer was being used to demolish illegal structures built on a parcel of land that a source belongs to an unnamed “influential person.” The child’s mother then died shortly after by stabbing herself, the two tragedies triggering protests by squatters and onlookers in the area.
A source at the location told SaharaReporters that the “influential individual” who owns the land had connived with officials of the Federal Capital Territory by pretending that he was building an estate on the land.
Trouble started when the demolition team arrived in the village with a retinue of armed men from the Army, Navy, Air Force, mobile police and Civil Defense Corps. An eyewitness said that the demolition squad began demolishing structures without allowing the occupants to take anything from their houses. “They did not allow anybody to salvage their property before they began to pull down all the houses. What led to the riot was the killing of a small girl who was left in the house while her mother went to buy something from the market. Before she came back from the market, the bulldozer had already crushed her child with the house,” said the source. He added: “When the mother of the girl arrived and saw her daughter in a pool of blood, she grabbed a knife and stabbed herself. She eventually died too.”
Infuriated by the two tragic deaths, residents of the community barricaded the lanes of the express road, making it impossible for motorists to ply the roads. The angry mob set up bonfires and smashed the windscreen of any vehicle that attempted to pass. The protests caused a heavy traffic gridlock along the road as many people abandoned their vehicles on the road.
A source told SaharaReporters that the demolition team hurriedly left the scene for fear of being lynched by the irate mob. One of the residents whose structure was demolished told SaharaReporters that the FCT authority had given the residents a six-month ultimatum to vacate. The deadline expired in March, but the resident condemned the government’s failure to offer any compensation or resettlement plan.
A similar demolition squad recently went to a village called Jahi near Shoprite in Abuja to pull down illegal structures, but was resisted by the residents.