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Protest trails closing time for Abuja gardens, parks, ban on alcohol sale

By Azimazi Momoh Jimoh, Abuja
13 July 2022   |   4:10 am
Owners and operators of recreational facilities in Abuja have protested the implementation of a policy, which stipulates closing time for gardens and parks within the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

Suez Garden and Restaurant, Abuja one of the affected parks

Owners and operators of recreational facilities in Abuja have protested the implementation of a policy, which stipulates closing time for gardens and parks within the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

They also protest the implementation of the ban sale of alcohol in gardens and parks.

The operators, who have been lamenting loss of revenues as a result of the implementation of the policy, have called for a reversal of the contentious policy.

In a letter to the FCT minister, Muhammed Bello,  the operators reminded him that Nigeria is a democratic society, where such draconian rules should not exist.

They charged the minister to uphold the rule of law and stop the enforcement of the closure of parks and gardens by 7:00p.m. in the FCT.

In a letter written through their lawyer, Ifeanyi Remy Agu, titled” “Re Suit No: CV/408/2008: Barrister (Mrs.) Amanda Pam (Proprietor Suez Garden) & 60 Others , the group  described the enforcement of the closing hour by FCTA, as sub-Judice.

The letter stated: “As solicitors to the plaintiffs in the above-stated suit, pending before the FCT High Court, we draw your attention to the threat to enforce 6:00pm closing hour by the proprietor of gardens in the FCT by your Senior Special Assistant on Monitoring and Enforcement, Comrade Ikharo Attah, which action is sub-judice of the pending case before the court.

“Suffice it to say that we live in a democratic society where rule of law prevails against personal desires and brigandage of public servants.

“The terms of settlements in the above matter have been ordered to be filed by the Honorable court after the parties agreed in terms and principles.

“Our clients received with the greatest shock the threatened enforcement by the SSA against the claimants. Sir, as a Minister in the temple of justice, we appeal to you to use your good office to call the SSA to order,  more especially as the case is before a court of law and  parties have agreed in principle.”

The Guardian learnt that enforcement of the policy  began at Eden Garden in Jabi at about 8:14 p.m. last week  and moved to the Par Excellence Waterfalls and Park, Unity Global Garden, and Grillzhut Garden, all in Wuse Zone 5.

Others are the Deli Restaurant and Garden in Wuse Zone 4 and City Park in Wuse II.

Most of the locations were filled with nightlife enthusiasts and customers seated around their pleasure tables in various clusters, when the enforcement task force arrived.

Madam Winners Wokoma,  who runs a sit-out restaurant at the Eden Garden,  lamented that  her losses as a result of the police are grievous and can lead to someone’s death.

Also, a manager at the Elite City Park, Wuse II, Micheal Akogwu,  said he opted to close exactly at 7:00 p.m .in compliance with the directives to avoid trouble, while adding that the revenue losses in the park were colossal, considering different segments that offer unique services with their attractive selling points.

MEANWHILE, the Senior Special Assistant on Monitoring, Inspection and Enforcement to the FCT Minister, Comrade Ikharo Attah, who led the Task Force, said enforcing the policy was not meant to kill people’s businesses, but to instill a sense of sanity to the parks and recreation sector.

While, regretting that the good intentions of the administration in allocating parks and gardens have been abused, he called for understanding and compliance.

He assured that the administration will continue to dialogue with owners and operators of parks, to fine-tune the processes, to ensure seamless implementation.

“We came out this night for advocacy enforcement, we have gone round some gardens to ensure compliance to FCTA Park policy 2005 that states that parks should close by 7:00p.m., that is why we appear to be very soft.

“Everyone is concerned about park operators, we really want them to make money, but we still need orderliness. Parks are not lounges, nightclubs and hotels.

They have specific guidelines on how they should operate. I think with time, everyone will begin to adjust,” he added.