Some residents of Maiduguri on Wednesday expressed divergent views on the plan by the Borno Government to demolish the notorious Galadima area in Maiduguri, home to drug dealers, prostitutes and criminals.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Gov. Kashim Shettima had given residents of the area two weeks to evacuate after which the area would be demolished.
The governor said that the decision was necessary to save the city from breeding new set of criminals after coming out of the horrors of Boko Haram.
In separate interviews with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) some residents commended the move while others said it may not address the social ills and crime in the city.
Malam Ibrahim Bashir, a resident, said that banning the joints was not only socially significant but would also help clean up the metropolis of many societal ills.
Bashir noted that having suffered excruciating hardship following activities of Boko Haram in the past years, the people would not want any further unpleasant incidents or crimes in the state.
“These joints are very atrocious to our existence and development. So any responsible government would not condone such act that condemns a segment of its youth to a hopeless future.”
Another resident, Said Danna commended the state government over the decision, saying it was necessary to stem criminal activities.
“The ban on Galadima and other places where crimes are nurtured to the stage of maturity is sociologically significant and highly commendable.
“Borno state has suffered tremendously from Boko Haram insurgency, which led to the loss of several lives and property worth billions of naira.
“The losses can hardly be recovered in five to seven years time
“Boko Haram have tortured and killed many people, thousands of women were widowed, thousands of children were orphaned by the insurgency, as a result of these phenomenon, many people became vulnerable to atrocities.
“Its obviously known fact that after a war there will be an unleash of large magnitude of atrocities in peacetime.
“All praise indeed are due to Allah, peace returned to Maiduguri and this is right time to put in place measures to contain such atrocities that could manifest, “ he said.
However Ali Bukar, a resident of Baga road, said those engaged in drugs and other forms of criminality may largely be doing so out of frustration and trauma.
Bukar said that demolition the area was mean nothing unless the government come up with a programme that would engage the largely traumatised youth to make their lives better.
“What do you expect from traumatised and widowed women with two or three children who have no one to look after their well being and life is becoming more difficult for them day by day?
“These vulnerable masses turn to prostitution since this is the simplest option to earn a dime.
“What does one expect from a young lady who is orphaned and has reached puberty stage but has no one to finance her, to give her a penny.
“I am afraid these vices would later degenerate and come to our doorsteps if not backed by a relevant programme that would engage them in positive and meaningful activities that would add value to their lives,” he said.
Also, Abubakar Suleiman, another resident, said that the demolition of Galadima and other areas would not in anyway address the issue of prostitution, drug addiction and other social vices.
Suleiman warned that the perpetrators would simply relocate to other areas and continue their heinous acts.
He said the government must come up with better approaches to positively engage such people.
“A viable roadmap must be designed that is capable of taking care of our teeming youth in such areas, or the enactment of legislation and the enforcement of stringent laws against such vices,” he said.
He suggested that the empowerment and rehabilitation of those involved should precede the ban and demolition.
“I think the empowerment and other safety net initiatives for the vulnerable women and girls should precede the ban and demolition order.
“The brothels in Galadima and other places in Maiduguri cannot be there in vacuum; it was product of supply and demand by many including people in authority,”said Suleiman.
Abdulhameed Bukar, a resident of Jere, recalled that the the initial ban order issued by the government in January 2017 had made no impact.
“Government said it will not tolerate a situation where unregistered or unlicensed persons engage in such business that directly touches on the health of the citizenry.
“It was announced last year that all brothels and other spots where prostitution, immoral activities, sale and consumption of illicit drugs is taken was banned.
“Those engaged in the activities above particularly in Galadima, Gamboru, Moduganari, Wulari, Hot Bite, Baga Road, Mairi, London Ciki, Artillery and along Giwa Barracks were also banned.
“Similarly, unregistered chemists and patent medicine stores were warned to properly get registered in a bid to control spate of illicit drug use by our youths.
“Unfortunately, they exempted military and paramilitary formations and Mammy Markets as provided by the liquor business prohibition law 2000. The ban never saw the light of the day as these activities resurfaced within one year,” he said.
Also reacting, Ali Goni, a resident of 202, lamented that the move would spread the activities into hitherto safer parts of the city.
Goni said, “Go to Sahel or Borno state Hotel, you will see the prostitute standing on the road looking for a one night stand. Many hotels also offer short time in a bid to make ends meet.
“Everybody knows Galadima is one place among 100 other places. We have an open drug market in Maiduguri and this is known to everybody.
“We also have many prostitution joints in our communities. Banning one and leaving others will only make the other stronger.”