Tunde Thomas, Lagos
Worried by harassment and violent attacks from hoodlums, including people claiming to be working for Ojo Local Government, a group of Igbo traders in Alaba International market has appealed to Lagos State Governor Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu to come to their aid by taking urgent steps to save their lives and their means of livelihood.
Making the appeal on behalf of Alaba Igbo Traders Association, the chairman of the group, Chief Valentine Obasi, lamented that he and members of his association are not only being prevented from carrying out their legitimate businesses but are also being harassed and persecuted on a daily basis by hoodlums and people who claim to be working for the Local Government.
Describing the experience of members as agonising and traumatic, Obasi called on Governor Sanwo-Olu to intervene and ensure that those behind the attacks on the traders are brought to book.
‘’These people attacking us are behaving as if they are above the law. We have reported them to the Ojo Local Government Chairman on several occasions but no action has been taken against them. Last year they vandalized my plaza, and goods worth over N7.5 million were carted away. This is how they also attack other members of my association almost on a daily basis. I have been appealing to my members to remain calm in the face of these provocative attacks because we are law abiding. Our association is duly registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission, and we are Nigerians. So why are we being harassed and persecuted in the same market where Hausa and Yoruba traders are not being disturbed? We want Governor Sawo-Olu to order the Ojo local government Chairman to let us be. We are bonafide citizens of Nigeria, they should stop disturbing us,” Obasi complained.
The businessman further declared: “We don’t want a situation where there will be violence, and breakdown of law and order because my members are fed up with harassment by these hoodlums. My members are peace loving. We are citizens of Nigeria, and we pay our taxes and levies as at when due to both Lagos State Government and Ojo Local Government that controls the Alaba market, so we don’t see any reason why our members should be disturbed or be harassed.’’
Obasi says that those behind the traders ordeal have been making attempts to run him and other members of the association out of business by falsely accusing them of being IPOB members.
‘’These people are desperate to destroy us and our businesses. They falsely accused us of being IPOB members. Not only that, they also falsely accused us of not supporting All Progressives Congress (APC) in Lagos State. All these are tissues of lies. We have been supporting APC in Lagos State since the time of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as Lagos State Governor in 1999. We supported former governors Babatunde Fashola and Akinwunmi Ambode, and we are also fully supporting Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who is the current governor of Lagos state today,” he said.