The Federal Capital Territory Administration has raised concerns about shop owners in Garki, Abuja, misusing the Cyprian Ekwensi Centre for Arts and Culture complex by turning it into a drinking hangout.
Mr Ibrahim Masari, the Mandate Secretary of the Social Development Secretariat at FCTA, emphasized the warning during a sudden meeting with business operators and shop owners at the secretariat in Abuja on Wednesday.
Consequently, Masari established 7.30 p.m. as the daily closing time for all business and shop owners within the complex, citing security considerations.
During his impromptu visit to the complex at 7.10 p.m. on October 29, he expressed his disappointment at the level of lawlessness that occurred within the secretariat.
He clarified that the reason for the visit was to verify the accuracy of the information he had about the reprehensible activities that occur in the complex during the late hours of the night.
He said, ‘To my dismay, I discovered more than 500 persons within the complex at such late hours, enjoying themselves with alcoholic drinks and smoking indiscriminately.’
‘I was not aware of what the event or activity was all about, as there was no official communication whatsoever to that effect.’
‘After waiting patiently till about 8.30 p.m. with no signs of them exiting soon, I invited some of the private security guards on duty who accompanied me to disperse the gathering.’
‘This is very disturbing.’
‘Management will no longer condone a situation whereby non-staff and tenants in the secretariat will stay back after official closing hours to as late as 9 p.m.’
In his statement, the Mandate Secretary specified that the 7.30 p.m. closing time would be implemented on Thursday, cautioning the public to be mindful of it to avoid any clashes with security personnel.
He highlighted that the civil service policy strictly prohibits the selling of alcohol or any other intoxicating substances within the confines of the working premises.
Moreover, he noted that an internal mechanism has been set in motion to reprimand business owners who encourage such misconduct and noncompliance with the current rules.
‘Business owners and members of the public who transact businesses in the complex after 7.30 p.m will have themselves to blame, if caught flouting this directive.’
‘Our private security guards have been duly advised accordingly,’ he said.
He explained that the decision was imperative, taking into consideration the security of lives as well as government properties.