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Anger, tears as Bayelsa demolition squad destroy street structures

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Residents and shop owners at the popular Imgbi road and Punch street were in tears yesterday as the Bayelsa State demolition team in charge of illegal structures demolished over 40 shops and shanties on the streets.

Many of them who said they had no prior notice before the demolition, said they paid yearly taxes to different agencies of the state government for those structures. Journalists who came to observe the demolition were harassed by a member of the demolition team, who threatened to smash anyone taking pictures or videos.

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A journalist with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) was accosted, told not to take photos and was eventually told to leave the scene. The traders in about 50 small shops, including boutiques, barbing and hairdressing salons, wine shops, small bars and restaurants all said they had paid between N15, 000 to N50, 000 each to the state government’s agencies, not to talk of rent paid to the various landlords.

A manager at a barbing salon, Faith Ezekiel, lamented that the state government never gave them prior notice before they came calling with bulldozers, saying, “Some of them came on Tuesday, asking us to remove the wind and sun shields at the front of the shop which we did. We even removed the glass door attached to the shop but we were surprised this afternoon when they came and destroyed our shop.

“I have about six staff working with me here and some of them even sleep in the shop, so where do they want us to go? Worse, we just paid N50, 000 to the state government as tax and other revenues. Nobody is saying they should not demolished but the government should have a human face, how do they want us to feed our family now?”

All efforts to speak with the demolition team proved abortive as they warned all journalists to leave the scene immediately.

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