Oshodi Market Demolition: Igbos In Lagos Cry Foul
SAN FRANCISCO, January 09, (THEWILL) – Some Igbo traders in Lagos have cried foul and accused the government of being insensitive to their welfare.
This comes after the Owonifari market, Oshodi, was demolished last Wednesday, on orders of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode.
Speaking with THEWILL, they claimed that the government only served them a 21-day quit notice, which had not expired at the time of the demolition, telling them to relocate to Isopakodowo, Bolade also in Oshodi.
“Where they said we should go at Bolade is uncompleted, small and cannot contain all the traders in this market let alone attract the patronage we receive here,” a trader simply identified as Afam told THEWILL.
“They sealed up the market. They did not allow us come in to pick our goods. If they don't want the Igbos in Lagos, they should come out to tell us,” he said with tears.
“How can they demolish the market without allowing us to remove our goods? It is inhuman,” another trader, Ngozi, another trader questioned
“Many of us traders had different goods in the market. At a time when people have spent all what they had to re-stock preparation for business in a new year, it is wicked,” she said.
Another trader who preferred anonymity was angry and called the governor unprintable names.
“Some of us have already travelled. Even if they want to chase us away, they should have allowed us pack all our goods. Is this the change they promised?”
“My brother just arrived from Dubai with goods, they have destroyed everything, they have killed us. 'Ndi'ojoo' he said in Ibo, meaning 'wicked people.'
The traders told THEWILL that they will reject the relocation to Isopakodowo market, now Oshodi Resettlement Market, citing structural instability and space as their reason for the rejection.
“We don't want that market because of the incident that happened two years ago when a part of the market sunk. The foundation is weak, that is why the place has never been used. Now the want us to go and die there,” another trader, Samuel Olisa, said.
Isopakowodowo Market, where the affected traders were asked to move to, was commissioned by the former governor of the state, Babatunde Fashola, on January 7, 2014.
It comprises 571 shops, 64 Closed Circuit Television Camera, CCTV and 22 toilets.
Investigation by THEWILL show that the market had never been opened to commercial activities since it was commissioned and had been under lock.
THEWILL observed a relocation notice at the security post for displaced traders of Owonifari and other traders with procedures to apply for market stalls.
It reads: “This is to inform the general public/Owonifari electronic traders that all applicants of shops and Klee-Klamps at Isopakodowo electronic market (Oshodi Resettlement Market) should submit their registration forms with allocation letters, Lagos State Resident Registration Agency, LASRRA registration slip and two passport photographs.”
THEWILL also gathered that Landlords in the area were already increasing rent, for up to 100 percent, due to the increase in demand for shop.
The traders called on their Igbo elite to speak up for them and help them overcome their losses.
“We call on our people to help us. They should speak for us and fight for us. Infact, they can give us money to start our business again because we cannot continue like this,” Nene Adaugo, an elderly woman, told THEWILL.
Efforts to speak with the Lagos state government was rebuffed, but a Lagos State official told THEWILL that the government would speak in due time.