Over 20,000 traders at Ile Epo Market in Lagos may be thrown out of business following a threat by the Agbado-Oke Odo Local Council Development Area to demolish their shops and stalls, the leadership of the market has said.
The traders warned that failure to stop the proposed demolition could lead to a major crisis in the market.
Counsel to the traders, Mahmood Atanda and the president of the traders, Alhaji Lawali Dangaladima urged the Lagos State governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, to prevail on the LCDA to stop the proposed demolition since the matter was already in court.
Atanda said: “Sometime in 2005 when the market was about to be redeveloped into a modern market, each member of the traders’ association – mostly the Hausa – in their bid to purchase the new shops and loading base paid to one Alhaji Haruna Ismaila, the then chairman of the association, to secure allocation for them. Upon the completion and allocation of the shops to the owners, the traders approached their former chairman for the allocation of their shops but learnt that he had diverted them for his own use.
“Recently, my clients and I went to the office of Agbado-Oke-Odo LCDA to inform them that the matter is before the court and the proposed seven-day ultimatum given the traders to vacate the market for the proposed demolition should not be. But they insisted on carrying out the exercise. Since then this has been causing bickering and misunderstanding between the Hausa traders and other ethnic groups in the market. Each time the traders demand their shops, the LCDA comes up with excuse that the matter is being looked into.”
Contacted, Ismaila denied conniving with the LCDA. “I have shops and stalls in the market,” he said. “How can I connive with the council to demolish the market where I am getting my daily bread?”
In a swift reaction, the Chief Information Officer of the council area, Mrs Oreoluwa Gbinigie, dismissed the allegations as untrue. “We are not planning to demolish shops at the market. The Agbado-Oke-Odo LCDA as a responsible council area was constrained to enforce strict sanitation of the market having observed that traders there have been constituting nuisance to the environment lately. Several parts of the market are unkempt as we speak and the traders have been displaying indifference to the nauseating environment, in clear disregard of our warnings.
“Apart from the dirty environment, fiendish elements including urchins and hemp smokers have converted parts of the market to their haven and we cannot afford to close our eyes to such ugly development in a place meant for transactions or commerce.
“Also, the council authority under the leadership of Hon David Famuyiwa has observed with keen interest how some traders have turned the market into their home, hence, the need to eject squatters there. Perhaps that is what the misguided ones among them termed to be demolition, but is not true at all.”
Source: The Nation Nigeria