Tears as Ladipo traders fault midnight demolition
Year 2016 seems not to be good for traders in Lagos State. While many market men and women are grappling with the dire times precipitated by the scarcity of dollars, fear of the state’s demolition squad battle-ready with their efficient bulldozers have caused many sleepless nights since the turn of the year.
It began with the leveling at Oshodi Market, then the taskforce team moved to Daleko Market in Mushin and razed it down. Nearly 24 hours after government announced its intention to relocate the troubled Mile 12 Market, the taskforce visited Ladipo auto spare-parts market yesterday at Toyota Bus-Stop on Apapa-Oshodi Expressway and demolished a section of the multi-billion naira market.
This latest act didn’t come to many by a surprise, as the market had been in the news for the wrong reasons in recent weeks. However, the supremacy battle between Owoyemi family and Odo-Aladura community over a portion of land had led to severe skirmishes that had claimed lives and closure of the market several times.
Speaking with The Guardian, Vice President of the market, Mr. Jude Chika Nwankwo, criticised the state government for demolishing over 300 shops without prior notice to the shop owners and market leaders. “It is so sad that an elected government can do this to its people. We were not given any notice to leave before today, we only came this morning to see ruins of our shops.
“Why should the government come like a thief in the night to do this. Our security man called me around 2:00 am and informed me of the presence of some government officials and policemen who came with caterpillars. I immediately put a call through to the Commissioner of Police at 2:15am to inform him of the situation. All he said was that there was no problem; that his men would be there to stop any illegal demolition.
“We are all family men now left with nothing to do, government has closed our source of livelihood; we are now helpless. Many of the items in the shop had been looted except for some heavy spare parts difficult to carry. Personally, I don’t know where to go from here. I have incurred huge debt with the last consignment I got due to the dollar issue and now this,” he lamented.
However, another trader said unidentified persons suspected to be thugs carried out the demolition. According to him, the thugs who attempted to demolish it recently before traders prevented them had to come around 3:00 a.m. to demolish the market and hurriedly left before the traders arrived in the morning.
“There had been crises for some weeks after the same thugs invaded the market and attempted to demolish it but the traders mobilised themselves and chased the thugs away. That invasion resulted in serious fracas between the traders and thugs during which many traders sustained injuries. One of the traders, Anene Utasi, was attacked. He was rushed to Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) where he eventually died.”
An angry trader, who was picking debris of his goods yesterday lamented failure of the government to issue any notice. “I kept N830,000 here yesterday but cannot find a penny. Everything has been looted. I had goods worth N16.8 million buried under the rubble, should I carry all the goods on my head to my house? Do they want to turn us into armed robbers?” he asked.
There were skeletal activities at other section of the market not touched yesterday as traders shut down in solidarity with those who lost their wares to the demolition. There was also a heavy presence of policemen stationed at the market to forestall any violence.