Levy increase stirs new crisis at Alaba market
Months after a leadership struggle at the Fancy and Furniture section of the Alaba International Market in Lagos State, led to a bloodbath, the fragile peace was shattered last week when two traders and market stakeholders, Peter Ofoma and Eselu Chukwudi, were brutally attacked over the lingering leadership crisis.
Last November, after the intervention of the Nigeria Police, Department of State Services (DSS) and the Nigerian Army, the Chief Emeka Mazoba-led executive of the Amalgamated Traders’ Union, during its inauguration, had promised to reconcile all warring factions and give peace a chance.
But crisis reared its ugly head last week when some members of an opposing faction were attacked and their shops locked arbitrarily by the union. When The Guardian visited the market yesterday, 17 shops, suspected to be owned by some traders opposed to the leadership were still under lock and keys since last Thursday.
Ofoma, who is still receiving treatment at an undisclosed hospital after regaining his consciousness on Monday, said: “Before I went into coma, the last thing I heard was an instruction given to the thugs to get rid of me. I didn’t know my offence. I only remembered that at the last exco meeting, where the chairman decided to increase monthly security levy of traders from N1,200 to N1,700, I had opposed it because of the hard times many people are facing due to the forex issue and recession and the many other levies collected by the leadership.”
A police source at the Ojo Police Station confirmed the incident, adding that investigations are ongoing into the crisis.
Attempts by The Guardian to get the leadership’s reaction were not successful, as union executives refused commenting on the issue.