Fowl seller locked out of market for informing police about Ejigbo pepper sodomy
On Christmas Eve, fowl sellers are usually one of the busiest traders as many make last minute preparations to get live chickens for their Christmas Day sumptuous meal. As such, Mrs. Awawu Kemi Sanni, popularly known as Iya Lati, a fowl seller and head of the Fowl Sellers Association in Ejigbo market, should be smiling to the bank after some brisk seasonal sales but she is rather suffering and not smiling.
Her travail is not linked to low patronage but a forceful eviction from the market accompanied by the loss of over 500 fowls valued at about N1 million. After weeks of internal struggle between her and the Iyaloja of Ejigbo Market, Victoria Osayemi, the fowl sellers’ section of the market was sealed on December 7 allegedly on the orders of Oba Morufu Ojoola, the Oojon of Ejigbo.
It was gathered that the embattled fowl seller is being fingered as the source that informed the police about the Ejigbo pepper sodomy incident in 2013 and is therefore being victimized for her supposed role in identifying the culprits.
It would be recalled that in late 2013, a video went viral of two women, a mother and her step-daughter, who were stripped, tortured and pepper poured into their private parts for stealing pepper at Ejigbo market. The stepdaughter died some days later from the trauma of the incident.
After the video of the incident went viral, it sparked widespread outrage, with women’s group calling for probe of the barbaric act. Following the outcry, the then Commissioner of Police, Umar Manko, ordered the arrest of the perpetrators and invited Oba Ojoola to his office for explanation about the incident leading to a prosecution of the suspects.
However, Mrs. Sanni denied being the police informant. “When we went to meet the Oba after instructing for the market to sealed, I was terrified when he said I should not be seen anywhere near the market and that I was henceforth removed as head of the fowl sellers’ section because I informed the police about the pepper incident. He also said I belonged to the group of Ejigbo Indigenes Forum led by Jelili Atiku, which he referred to ‘Aragamago’ before sending me out of the palace.
“I have been selling in the market since 2004 and in 2009, I bought the present section where we use for N600,000 alongside two others. Since then, I have never defaulted in paying the several levies expected from us like weekly N300 for PSP, monthly N500 for security, monthly N500 Oba Morufu feeding allowance, special level to buy Ileya cow for Oba Morufu, weekly N500 ‘owo atajere’ and the N2,400 market levy by Ejigbo LCDA. So, I want my land back and a return to the market. I also seek damages for the over 500 fowls that died when the market was locked for days, which amounts to N1 million.”
When The Guardian visited the palace, the monarch was unavailable for comments. A council official at Ejigbo LCDA who was aware of the matter said the chairman had earlier intervened in unsealing the market only to be resealed some days later. “Presently, the matter is being handled but it will take a while because we have to respect our traditional institution. Meanwhile, we have asked the woman to look for another place to trade and keep body and soul together first while we work at resolving the matter,” the council source said.