Bunker, arms discovered under shops at demolished Oshodi market
Following the hue and cry over demolition of the popular Owonifari Electronic Market loop at Oshodi, the Lagos State government has said that the market had to go following its security threats to residents of the state.
State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Steve Ayorinde, at an inter ministerial chat with reporters on Thursday, said that the demolition exercise on Tuesday and Wednesday actually confirmed some of their fears, “as we discovered concrete bunker and arms underneath the shops.”
The government said though the matter of relocation had been on for about 10 years, recent intelligence report and criminal activities around Oshodi during the festive season, informed the drastic action of the state government.
The government said plans were already in top gear to begin the construction of a world-class bus terminus in the loop.
It would be recalled that bulldozers swung into action late Tuesday night, destroying over 1000 shops in the Owonifari loop following a quit notice served to the occupants on December 21, 2015.
Contrary to the claims that the 16-day notice order was too short, Ayorinde said that the issue dated back to 10 years, with back and forth negotiations held with leadership of the market on relocation to a larger Isopakodowo market about 200 metres from the demolished site.
He stressed that the move was in the best interest of everyone, adding that the state government could not have been more magnanimous with the conditions of the new market and the rate at which the new shops were rented out.
Ayorinde, however, said while markets would always be in Oshodi, some illegal structures already marked by the state government would have to be demolished to make way for traffic free-flow and crime-free Oshodi axis.
He said: “Government, I should say, will not be blackmailed because we had done everything humanly possible and you know that the hallmark of this government has been compassion. It is a compassionate government.
“The intention was not to destroy the market or destroy properties or to make life inconvenient for them. We believe very strongly that Isopakodowo market is quite ideal; its a lot bigger store-per-store than where they had been removed now and the aim of government, as we stated earlier, is to ensure that that area of the market conforms with the type of image that we want Lagos to be, which is to return sanity to the place, to beautify the market, to construct a world class bus terminus around that place and to ensure that people who use that place on a daily basis – the commuters, traders, everybody enjoy what it means to go to a market in a mega city.
“We also believe that the exercise will largely reduce the gridlock that is associated with that area and then the criminalities that were rampant in that Oshodi. What we have done is in the interest of the generality of Lagosians,” Ayorinde said.
The commissioner said that the government had already commenced the fencing-off of the set-back on Agege Motor Road that stretches from Ilupeju end of Oshodi all the way to the PWD/Ikeja GRA end of the area.
Ayorinde said the ongoing fencing-off and beautification of the road set-back from Ilupeju bypass to PWD/Ikeja GRA would constitute the first phase of the transformation of the Oshodi area.
The second phase, he added, would begin from PWD/Ikeja GRA and stretch all the way to Agege/Pen cinema axis.
Commissioner for the Environment, Dr. Babatunde Adejare, said contrary to claims in some quarters, none of the occupants’ properties was destroyed in the demolition exercise.
“On Tuesday night, we found that all the occupants have complied and moved to the new market. The only one that remained actually called us to say that he was in the East burying his late mother. For that one, we had to evacuate his properties and they are safe with us. So, nothing was destroyed in the exercise.”
Adejare added that the governor had been so magnanimous to have allowed the shop owners acquire new shops in Isopakodowo market at N5,000 in a place like Oshodi.
“There is nowhere in Lagos where you will be paying N5, 000 per shop not to talk of the central Oshodi, but the governor agreed with them and we said we were ready to concede after which we now formally served them with a quit notice through the office of the Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development,” he said.