Exhibitors at the Abuja International Trade Fair have attributed the low turnout at the fair to the tight security arrangements at the venue. Some of them complained about the situation. Malam Sule Lafizi, a herbal medicine dealer from Maiduguri, said that the presence of soldiers at the entrance to the exhibition ground scared many people away from the fair.
“When people see soldiers with unfriendly faces everywhere, they tend to be afraid and they stop coming here,” he said. Lafizi noted that armed solders with stern faces were always stationed at the entrance to the trade fair complex throughout the day.
He, therefore, urged the government to either withdraw the soldiers from the trade fair complex or reduce their numbers so as to enable people transact businesses and move around freely without any form of hindrance.
“As at now, we are not recording good sales, as the people are apparently frightened. Today, I managed to earn only N200 from selling my herbs, while on a good day, I could earn up to N10,000,” he said.
Lafizi urged the trade fair’s organisers to promptly address the problems brought about by the tight security situation at the complex, so as to foster increased patronage, while enabling the exhibitors to recoup their expenses at the fair.
However, a police officer, Mr Magbo Okechukwu, said that the tight security arrangements at the trade fair complex were put in place to ensure the safety of the people and their property at the fair.
“We have to be strict to avoid any form of lapses, which could be exploited by terrorist groups such as the Boko Haram. The poor attendance of people at this year’s trade is because people are afraid that such events could be targets of bombing for the Boko Haram group,” he said.