Traders, in their numbers, from Second Gate, Agboju Market, Festac Town, in Amuwo Odofin Council Area of Lagos State, today, abandoned their shops to march against their alleged tormentors, whom they said have made life unbearable for them.
At exactly 9am, the traders, comprising mostly women, under the umbrella of Alhaja Abibatu Mogaji Market Association, besieged the premises of the Federal Housing Authority (FHA), singing solidarity songs and calling on the authorities to call those who are tormenting them to order.
They stormed the authority’s office to express their fear over demolition threat read out to them by some persons a few days ago.
They also went there to clarify from FHA if it gave its backing to the accused to take charge of the market and every other space they were using for their businesses.
Their grievances were also not unconnected with the claim that a particular woman, who showed up at the market only two years ago, is boasting of her connections with FHA and Amuwo Odofin local council to collect different levies, as well as using security agents to enforce the collection of the levies.
Some of the placards read: “We don’t want criminals as leaders; FHA please help us”; “Enough is enough in Agboju Market”; “Enough of constant oppression from a terror”; “Lagos State government come to our rescue”; kesio stop threatening our lives”; “lyaoja general come to our aid”: “Amuwo Odofin Chairman must talk”; “our lives are no longer safe”; and “the extortion is unbearable”.
The aggrieved traders were on September 20, 2021, at FHA’s office to draw its attention to their plight.
A petition by the traders to the zonal manager of FHA, South West, dated July 7, and jointly signed by Mr. Chizoba Eze, Mr. Chukwuka Johnson, Mrs. C. Onyia and Mrs. R.B. Anofi, read: “From the actions taken by the FHA on the demolition of the buffer zone some months ago, it gave us the conviction that the land area is still under the ownership and control of the FHA. We want the FHA to make a categorical statement to prove that the accused woman was not working for the authority.”
They are more worried that the woman has sworn to evict everyone that refuses to comply with her terms. She was said to have stormed the market with her guards on October 25, to issue a threat that the FHA and the council were set to demolish the entire market in a matter of days. As gathered, she, therefore, advised whoever was still interested in continuing trading in the area to apply for a fresh allocation of space through her.
An angry trader, Mrs. Comfort Oresotu, a widow, said that the accused would collect money for security, sanitation and also for loss of any trader without remitting the money to the deceased’s family members.
She told Daily Sun at Amuwo Odofin LGA secretariat that they were paying levies everyday to the government, and therefore should be carried along with every decision relating to the market.
She said that they also need to know if the council has given the go-ahead for their shops to be demolished.
Responding to the protesters at FHA premises, Mr. Alaba Omoniyi, said that FHA was giving the protesters a listening ear merely on compassionate ground. He reminded them that they were illegal occupants at the said place.
He told them that the accused was not in any way commissioned to work or collect any money for FHA.
He said that the housing authority had not authorised anybody to re-allocate the land.
“However, if you have had any agreement with whoever answers that name that you are mentioning has nothing to do with FHA.
“That axis you are talking about has been allocated to Amuwo Odofin LGA for the government to develop it,” he said.
He advised the traders to have a peaceful talk with tye local government chairman on the way forward, assuring them that the council boss would listen to them.