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RELOCATION OF WURUKUM MARKET/PROTEST: Ortom's Commissioner Issues Out Press Release

PRESS STATEMENT ISSUED BY THE HONOURABLE COMMISSIONER FOR INDUSTRY, TRADE AND INVESTMENT, DR TERSOO KPELAI, ON THE PLANNED PROTEST BY CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANISATIONS TO PREVENT THE RELOCATION OF THE WURUKUM MARKET TO ULTRA MODERN INTERNATIONAL MARKET
22ND OCTOBER, 2016
The Samuel Ortom administration that was elected through a free, fair, peaceful and transparent process is committed to making life better for the people of the state. One way to do that is to redesign, restructure and reposition markets in the state to add more value to the business of all stakeholders in line with global best practices. This is also in compliance with the urban renewal policy of the administration.
In line with the aforementioned, arrangements with an investor to rebuild the burnt part of Makurdi Modern Market and restructure as well as resuscitate the market with state of the art facilities have been concluded. Same measures have been taken on the Wadata market in Makurdi as well as Zaki-Biam market in Ukum local Government . Modern markets in several parts of the world also serve as tourist sites where some members of the public go on window shopping to ease stress and meet with friends and loved ones.
The state executive council in December 2015 resolved to relocate the Wurukum market on account of traffic related challenges, its poor sanitary conditions, the perennial flooding in the area and other factors. The Ultra Modern International Market marked to host the relocated market has been built with fire proof specifications. It also has state of the art facilities including banks, restaurants, clinics, toll gate, toilets, boreholes with overhead tanks, a fire fighting station, perimeter fence to enhance security, spacious parking lots to carry more than 280 vehicles at a time, and an administrative block with a large conference hall.
Following the resolution of the council, a technical committee was set up to handle the relocation process. Civil Society Organisations, the Christian Association of Nigeria, Wurukum Market Traders, Market Union officials, the academia, security agencies, traditional rulers and Makurdi Local Government council, to mention a few, were coopted into the technical committee.
A lot of advocacy has been done and series of meetings held since last year with the involvement of the Wurukum Market Traders Union to ensure a hitch free relocation process in line with the democratic posture of the present administration.
Along the line however, the Wurukum Market Traders backed out of the relocation process only to resurface with a letter of threat to drag the state government to court should it insist on the relocation.

More worrisome is the situation where the Wurukum Market Traders leadership appears to have constituted a parrarel government and all forms of atrocities including thuggery and extortion of money from traders in the guise of engaging the services of a lawyer and civil society organizations are the order of the day. With this unfortunate development traders who have refused to pay the purported levies have been brutalized and subjected to various forms of torture and inhuman treatment.
Another disturbing aspect is the information we have received that civil society organizations and other groups from within and outside the state are being mobilized to stage a protest in Makurdi on Wednesday this week.
We have already contacted security agencies who are also aware of clandestine activities of the group and are poised to swing into action and do the needful because our government believes in due process and rule of law.
We have requested the security agencies to avert the planned protest as it poses a serious security threat in the state.
It is hoped that the civil society organizations involved should rather serve as a bridge between government and the Wurukum Market Traders instead of taking sides and refusing to hear the government side of the story in order to arrive at a balanced opinion.

The executive council was specific in putting in place a compensation plan for shop owners at Wurukum market. This plan included the reversal of the outright purchase policy of the previous administration to the present lease policy which is cheaper and more affordable to all categories of traders. Moreover, the proprietary structure at the Wurukum market preferred by the traders will be transferred to the International Market and shop owners who will not be willing to move to international market are expected to collect their cash compensation.
The falsehood being circulated that the Wurukum market has been sold to South African Shoprite, is unfounded, baseless and mischievous. This is a fabrication by enemies of progress who have been sponsored by political opponents.
The decision to relocate the Wurukum Market to Makurdi Ultra Modern International Market is for the best interest of traders and buyers.

We sincerely appeal to shop owners and open space sellers to pick forms and present themselves for verification as only 54 shops were either partly or fully sold by the previous administration and there still remains enough shops at the International Modern Market. We also appeal to Wurukum Market Traders to return to the dialogue and negotiation table to chart the way forward.
Signed:
Tersoo Kpelai, Ph.D.
Honourable Commissioner,
Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment.
Benue State.

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