The Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) on Tuesday, January 12, demolished five local wrestling and drama theatres popularly called “Gidan Dembe” over violations of COVID-19 safety protocols.

The wrestling and dancing theatres located at Dakibiyu, Gwarimpa 1 and Sector Centre districts were destroyed by the FCT Ministerial Enforcement Taskforce with assistance from personnel of the Nigeria Police, State Security Services (SSS) and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC).

Speaking at the demolition exercise, Ikharo Attah, the Head, Media, Public Enlightenment and Advocacy of the FCT Ministerial Enforcement Taskforce, said the removal of the structures became inevitable following repeated warnings to the owners of the Gidan Drama and Gidan Dembe to stop operations because “they are prohibited to do so under the COVID-19 Protocols and Guidelines”.

“Thousands of people gather in these local entertainment centres to watch artistes and wrestlers perform. In one of the centres, we observed during surveillance that thousands gather to watch nude dancers. Facemasks, physical distancing and sanitizing of the hands do not exist here at all.” he said

Attah threatened that any Kannywood actor or actress caught at any of such theatres will be arrested.

“If we get them here we will arrest and charge them to court regardless of their fame and status. The task force chairman also urged those patronising the centres to desist from doing so if they hope not to contract the dreaded virus,” he said

The taskforce has also arraigned 25 persons including motorists and commuters for violating the safety protocols.

“Most of the commercial drivers arrested carried too many passengers and overloaded their vehicles in contravention of the COVID-19 Transportation Guidelines and Protocols,” Attah said

He disclosed that one of the drivers who identified himself as Garba was sentenced to one-week imprisonment for assaulting police personnel attached to the taskforce and ramming his car into a police van while trying to evade arrest.