After three years of legal tussle, shop owners at Wuye Ultramodern Market, on Thursday took over their shops amidst tight security.
They, however, said they lost over N9 billion to the crisis.
The market was allocated to market women and men that were initially trading at Bakassi market close to NNPC mega station in 2002.
They were given allocation letter by the the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA).
Speaking with Journalists during the handing over of the keys, lawyer and spokesperson of the group, Rotimi Ojegbile, said the project for the construction of the new market was awarded to All Purpose Shelter, under a Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement.
Under the arrangement, a list of eligible allottees was given to the developer by the FCDA, and the allotees were asked to pay for the development of the market in three tranches, with the first payment being 50% of the total sum and then the other 25% twice.
While some of the market men and women, as well as shop owners complied with the arrangement, some aggrieved members didn’t claiming that the FCT authority had promised to build them a new market without paying a penny.
This led to the legal battle between the two parties upon the completion of the market.
Ojegbile said, “it is very sad that having committed so much money running into millions of Naira, you have been deprived; some borrowed money, some accessed funds through other means, they have been deprived of enjoying the fruit of their labour for years.
“Shop owners spent between N3.2 million depending on the type of shop you want, there are categories of N4.4 million, it is in various categories, we have lost billions of naira”.
However, the judgement delivered by Justice O.A Musa of the FCT High Court, Wuse division has now made it possible for the shop owners who have fulfilled the conditions laid out under the PPP arrangement to possess their shops.
Ojegbile said, “The law abiding shop owners of Wuye Ultramodern Market in furtherance of the judgement have come to take possessions of their shops having complied with the conditions of possession which is that they must have a letter of allocation from FCDA, they must have paid for the development of the market.
“Those that have the original letter of allocation which is provisional and having satisfied the conditions by paying for the development of the market are the ones that have come to take possession of the market so that the market can come alive.
“Some of these groups complied in addition to their letter of allocation and they paid for the development of the market, while others decided not to pay because they claimed the government promised to build the market free of charge for them, which never happened.
“So, they went to court and praying the court to grant certain orders and releases; that the developer should not ask them to pay any money; that they should be allowed to come to the market and possess shop without the developer collecting any money from them again.
“The court now declined that prayer and said that there is no way the court will make such an order because that would mean that they should not pay rent and other statutory charges; but the court directed that they should be allowed to possess shops, but not without fulfilling that condition.”
He regretted that the aggrieved persons only copied with the aspect of the judgement that favoured them and started using that for propaganda and distortion of the truth in the media.