Hundreds of traders at the Opeoluwa Second Gate Market, Agboju, Festac Town, Lagos, recently marched peacefully to the headquarters of Amuwo Odofin Local Government Area to protest the planned demolition of their stalls by the authorities.
Some of the traders, who arrived at the market as early as 7am that day, were angered by the presence of bulldozers stationed at the main entrance to the market from the Mile 2 side of the Badagry Expressway.
The bulldozer’s position effectively blocked cars and indeed every other vehicle from gaining access to the popular market, thus preventing buying and selling and putting every economic activity on hold.
The traders, who had arrived earlier, quickly mobilised other members by calling out those still on their way from home and those outside the vicinity to inform them of what was going on and urging them to come and join in the protest. And before long, the market was brimming with traders.
By 9am, when over 300 members had arrived, the chairman of the market association, Mr. Fidelis O. Nwagbo, and members of the executive then marched to the office of the chairman of Amuwo Odofin Local Government to register their anger and vehemently oppose the forceful take-over of the market by the council.
When Daily Sun visited the scene, people were seen standing in groups discussing the matter, while every shop was under lock and key.
Some of the traders also wondered why government officials always come with threats to demolish the market only during the Christmas and New Year festival. Even meat sellers who usually arrive earlier than the rest in order to have sufficient time to slaughter the livestock meant for the day’s business were all standing helplessly watching the scene.
Nwagbo, popularly called Ubama, said the traders had been having a running battle with some individuals, including the Iyaloja, Mrs. Osinatu Adebayo, one Ethelbert Okereke, aka Ogbuagu, an unnamed developer, the chairman of the council, Dr. Valentine Buraimoh, and the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) to take over the market, demolish the stalls and build permanent structures.
He said the recent protest was sequel to a seven-day quit notice issued by the local council dated December 3, 2018, to the market association, operators and stakeholders to vacate the land to pave the way for a redevelopment work in compliance with the directives of the State Market Board.
He confirmed that when in August there were threats to burn down the market, the traders informed their solicitors, Chidi Njoku and Co., of Vintage Chambers, Festac Town, who wrote a petition to the appropriate authorities.
The letter, dated August 31, 2018, said that the makeshift market at Second Gate, Agboju, named Opeoluwa, has been there for over 40 years with 600 members. According to him, the parcel of land housing the market is part
of the buffer zones of Festac Town, not meant for permanent structures nor for sale by either the FHA or any individual.
He condemned the frequent threats and quit notice from the Iyaloja and her accomplices, urging the Nigeria Police, through the Area Commander, and the Federal Government to come to the aid of the traders.
Nwagbo promised that the traders would explore all peaceful means to resolve the matter but warned that they would not be cowed into losing their means of livelihood and that of millions of people who depend on the market for survival. He also commended the divisional police officer and his team for their timely intervention
to stop the situation from degenerating into chaos.
READ ALSO: Food security: FG to review NARC’s mandate