There was wild jubilation and adulation in Borno State as Nigerian Army on Wednesday 15 December 2021 re-opened Damasak Commercial Market, seven (7) years after it was shut down following the brief occupation of the town by Boko Haram elements in 2014
The Commander 5 Brigade Nigerian Army, Brigadier General SS Tilawan announced to a gathering of people of Damasak led by the elders community leaders, that the decision of the Nigerian Army to reopen the Damasak major market noting that “The decision to reopen the market followed the success made by the Nigerian Army at improving security around the town of Damasak and environs”.
Recall that the Damasak Commercal market is a major trading center for traders from parts of the state and neigbouring Niger Republic which provides a source of revenue to about 80 percent of the residents of the area who are mainly farmers and petty traders.
Speaking during the re-opening, Brig Gen Tilawan said, “The 5 Brigade Nigerian Army is officially opening the Damasak Commercial Market today (Wednesday) as directed by the Theater Commander Major General CG Musa.
“The Damasak commercial market used to serve as the main trading center for thousands from all parts of the states and neigbouring states, as well communities across in Niger Republic.
“Since the closure in 2014 thousand’s of people have lost their major source of livelihood. This has made hundreds from this area to relocate to Niger Republic and other places in search of livelihood.
“For years, the concern of another invasion of the town led to the continued closure of the market. But that fear does not exist anymore.
“In the past few months 5 Brigade has not only comprehensively flushed out the activities of Boko Haram and other criminal elements around Damasak but has also put in place a very constructive security network that is strong enough to ensure the total protection of the people in Damasak and give assurance for the full resumption of all economic and social activities in the town,
“Today (Wednesday Dec 15, 2021), we are indeed witnessing a historic occasion as it marks the end of the economic black blanket that was thrown over this part of the state with the closure of this big commercial market.
“I need not reassure you of your security in Damasak, as you are all aware of the efforts of the Brigade at safeguarding your lives and properties.
Continuing the Brigade Commander said, “It is my prayers that this occasion will mark one of the several milestones to ending the scourge of insurgency and criminality in this part of the country.
“We fully understand that the economic empowerment of the people will give them the strength and courage to offer total and unalloyed support to the military in its fight against the remnants of these criminal elements.
“We will continue to do everything in our power to ensuring the security of lives and economic activities of the peaceful and law abiding people of this area.
Brig Gen Tilawan there-after extended the well wishes of the Theatre Commander, Maj Gen Christopher Musa, the Commander Multinational Joint Task Force, Maj Gen SK Ibrahim and the Commander, Sector 3, Brig Gen GM Makut to the people of Damasak
Giving a brief history of Damasak Market, Baba Mohammadu Zangoma, an indigene said, This Market was in the Bush NE of Damasak before it was brought to where it is today in the year 1955.
“So many people benefited positively from the Market, until 2014 when Boko Haram attacked Damasak and pursued every body out of the town on Monday 20 December 2014 whereby all the population abandoned the town and ran to other places for safety.
“Chadian soldiers took over the town from BHT in 2015 and the Damasak continued but not as it used to be, for a period of four months because some of the inhabitants of Damasak came back because of the hardships faced in other places.
“It is sad to mention that when the Chadian troops pulled out, the Civilians had no choice but to flee the town. And the Boko haram took over the town again, until 2016 when Nigerian troops took over the town and forced Boko haram out of the town and its environs.
“This gave the Civilians the mind to come back to their settlement again as they were ordered by the State Government in December 2016. Since the re-occupation of Damasak by the locals they has not been normal Market activities as it used to be, making some of the locals to abandoned their homes and moved to other places for livelihood as they were not progressing in their normal Businesses and Farming activities.
Zangoma said, “An estimated number of more than 5000 persons from across all the states and the country gathered in Damasak for Marketing and Business activities in the past.
“Big and small truck from across the state and the country gather here in Damasak for Business activities because Damasak Market was among the largest markets in Borno state across the fringes of the border and lake Chad respectively.
“The day of the Market was Every Monday of the week but buying and selling take place every other day as a normal Business activity.
“The benefits of the Market to us the people of Damasak includes growth of the town, selling of farm produce in good prices, business opportunities to all classes the inhabitants just to mention a few.