Ladipo Market Invasion: Traders Estimates Loss At Over N100 million
TRADERS at the popular Ladipo International Auto Spare Parts Main Market, popularly known as Ogba-Ewi, which was closed down by Mushin Local Government Council authorities on Tuesday, have estimated their losses at over N100 million.
The chairman of the market traders association and president-general, Ladipo Central Executive Committee (LACEC), the umbrella body of Ladipo traders amalgamated associations, Hon Kingsley Ikechukwu Ogunor, while speaking to journalists in the market on Wednesday, described the invasion of the market by the Council authorities with armed Mobile Policemen, two patrol teams of OP MESSA and hoodlums as barbaric.
According to Ogunor, “a letter of closure of the market signed by the Executive Secretary of Mushin Local Government, Hon Jide Bello, was brought to the market on June 29, around 5:30pm, but on the wee hours of the next day, June 30, they invaded the market with the armed security men and hoodlums, who brandished dangerous weapons including guns and machetes, to remove the roofs of the stores in the market in order to forcefully eject the traders and pave way for propose market redevelopment.”
He noted that his members in frustration, anger and tears, scampered to salvage the little wares they could find following the demolition of some of their shops and the eventual shutting of the market by officials of the council, who claimed the exercise was to make way for re-modeling.
“Mushin Local Government authorities at the closing of business on Monday, June 29, at about 5:30pm, purportedly brought a letter, stating that they want to re-model the market, but on the wee hours of June 30, they came in with armed Mobile Policemen, two patrol team of OP MESSA, and large number of hoodlums, who with the support of the armed security operatives intimated the market security operatives and the traders,” he said.
He added, “They removed the roofs of our stores, broke our safes and made away with the money that some of us sold the previous day, while the police and OP MESSA operatives watched them.
It is unfortunate that this is happening now that we all are beginning to experience the change that we all clamoured and voted for during the last general election.”
On whether there was a meeting between the market leadership on behalf of the traders and the Council authorities or the supposedly developer, Ogunor said, “This place is not a virgin land, and even if there is a meeting, there is a laid down procedure for such.
In the various houses/compound that we live, if the owner/landlord wants to evict you as tenant, he goes to court because there are judicial procedures for such matter.
He cannot just come and eject you because he has the power to do such.” He appealed to the state governor, Akinwumi Ambode, to intervene and call the Executive Secretary of the Local Government to order, while the traders take stock of their losses. Also condemning the invasion and demolition of the market, the legal adviser to the traders’ association and founder/president, Crusade for Justice, a human rights advocacy group, Barrister Richard Nwankwo, said it was a blatant display of lawlessness, a show of crash irresponsibility and display of ill-training and manner on the part of the Executive Secretary.
He described the invasion as heinous, condemnable, animalistic, barbaric and unprecedented. “By this act, it shows that Executive Secretary and his cohorts does not respect for humanity and decency.
The position of the law is clear on matter such as this. I often refer people to the Supreme Court’s decision in the matter between Ojukwu and Lagos State Government, where the court ruled that you cannot resort to self-help.
If you must eject your tenant from your property, you must follow the due process. Some traders, who spoke to The Guardian, berated the Council authority for uncivilsed act, saying that this was not what they bargained while casting their votes in the March 28 and April 11 general elections.
Some said they have just paid their rents, the most recent being four days before the invasion. According to Mr. Stanley Iheonu, there was no notice given beforehand to the traders to enable them prepare, adding that it is raining season, and if it rains, it will damage the traders wares. “They didn’t tell us anything. I don’t know where they want us to go.
We don’t have other shops. Assuming they gave us some kind of notice, we would know what to do,” he said. He added: “We want to know why they vandalised our shops.
If they have any issue within themselves, let them sort it out. We are here to look for our daily bread, and not to disturb anybody. If they really planned to develop the market, they should have at least informed us.
The governor of Lagos State should please come to our aid. Things should do what is right way.” Meanwhile, reacting to the matter, the Executive Secretary of Mushin Local Government, Hon. Jide Bello, reiterated the Council’s determination to reconstruct the market, as it had become an eyesore due to the unwholesome activities of some of the traders and the degradation of its surroundings.
He said the development would be done in phases. Bello, spoke with journalists in his office on Thursday, and explained that it had become inevitable to redevelop the market to conform to the vision of the megacity policy of the Lagos state government.
They removed the roofs of our stores, broke our safes and made away with the money that some of us sold the previous day, while the police and OP MESSA operatives watched them. It is unfortunate that this is happening now that we all are beginning to experience the change that we all clamoured and voted for during the last general election
“We have decided to redevelop the market because it has become an eyesore due to the unwholesome activities of some of the traders and the degradation of its surroundings. He said the development would be done in phases.” He, however, denied that the market was shut down by the Council, and tendered documents that were signed by leaders of the traders at the market during meetings held recently.