There was confusion at the Ikokwu Motor Spare Parts Market in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, on Sunday, after traders clashed with the police following an attempt by a yet-to-be-identified investor to demolish the market.
It was learnt that trouble started when the traders started pelting the workers, who were sent to pull down the market, with missiles.
Following the confrontation, the police intervened to restore order, but the angry traders refused to back down and directed their anger at the cops.
One of the traders revealed on condition of anonymity that they got wind of the demolition attempt and swung into action to resist it.
He added that following the notice to quit served on them by the landlords after an investor had acquired the property, the Rivers State Government intervened and gave the traders more time to relocate and the grace period had yet to lapse.
He said, “We mobilised ourselves early this morning (Sunday) when we heard that construction workers had come to demolish our market; we stoned and drove them away, because the time given to us to leave this place after we had a meeting with the government has not expired.
“We are now waiting to see what will happen next; we are not happy because this market is where we conduct our business and manage our lives; so, we are begging the state government to give us more time to look for alternative places.”
“After we tried to defend our market from being demolished, the Special Anti-Robbery Squad also started chasing us away from the market and harassing us; so, we got angry and faced them a little too.”
When contacted, the state Police Public Relations Officer, Nnamdi Omoni, said the work of the police was to ensure the sustenance of peace and not to meddle in the affairs of the traders and their landlords.
He stated, “Our work is to provide security for all and sundry. The reaction of the traders was not unexpected, but we are not going into the agreement between the traders and their landlords, but our interest is to ensure that there is no any breach of the peace in the land.
“As it is, Rivers people are enjoying a fragile peace and we want to sustain that peace, hence no matter how highly placed any group disturbing the peace is, we will deal with that group decisively.”