Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
There was bloodbath at Bodija Market in Ibadan, yesterday, when butchers clashed with men of the Oyo State Police Command, during which five persons were reportedly shot dead, and many others injured.
The popular Bodija Police Divisional Police Headquarter was also burnt down by the angry butchers.
Daily Sun gathered that the incident occured as police stormed the abattoir section of the market to enforce government’s directives.
The state government had directed that all butchers at the popular abattoir and others within Ibadanland should relocate to the new ultra modern Ibadan Central Abattoir at Amosun Village, in Akinyele Local Government Area.
The ultimatum given to the butchers by the government expired last week and the market was demolished last Sunday night.
But, nobody claimed responsibility for the demolition. In spite of the demolition, the butchers refused to relocate to the new central abattoir as directed. They premised their refusal on many challenges, such as security and accessibility and the need for the government to build many central abattoirs in different ends of Ibadan; to make life easy for butchers.
But before the arrival of the police at the market yesterday morning, the butchers had slaughtered some cows.
It was gathered that the police stormed the market and shot sporadically into the air, ordering the butchers to vacate the abattoir section of the market. The butchers and other traders were said to have taken to their heels initially when staccato of gunshot rented the atmosphere before they regrouped.
When the brave ones among them came back to meet the police, they reportedly appealed to the law enforcement agents to permit them to stay in the market till the end of the day so that they could sell the beef from the cows they had already slaughtered.
The appeal, it was further gathered, fell on the deaf ears of the police who insisted that the butchers must leave.
The insistence by the police, as gathered probably made some of the butchers to become violent.
Eyewitnesses, however, said a team of policemen who came to the abattoir in the process shot directly into the confrontational crowd. Three butchers were said to have been shot dead, while two other artisans also lost their lives when volleys of gunshots hit them.
The development reportedly further angered the butchers and they mobilised to the Bodija Police Divisional Police Headquarters, and set it ablaze. The policemen on ground were said to have escaped being lynched but some were reportedly injured with broken bottles, cutlasses and knives by people believed to be butchers.
When Daily Sun visited the scene, unfriendly policemen had cordoned off the market.
They prevented journalists from entering the market until the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Mr. Adekunle Ajisebutu, who was on an assessment tour of the market, with the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Abiodun Odude, intervened.
Odude and other top police officers at the scene literally wore sad looks.
Cars, motorcycles and Hilux vehicles parked outside and inside the premises of the burnt police station were also burnt beyond recognition.