By Adekunle Williams
Hundreds of traders on Tuesday stormed the Lagos State House of Assembly in protest against the demolition of the Ikosi/Isheri produce market in Lagos.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the protesters, mostly women, arrived at the assembly en masse, chanting different songs and carrying placards with various inscriptions.
Among the inscriptions on their placards were; “Re-modeling is a political coined language to sell our market, we say no to it; “Nigerians of conscience should come to our help. Governor Sanwoolu please help us”.
Others were: “Our market is not to be sold in any form. We will explore all legal options to stop the satanic demolition of our market. OYESCO should be called to order; Iketu/Ikosi market belongs to all, it must not be sold”.
The leader of the protest, Mrs Adebukola Adejuwonbi, said the market was being destroyed without proper notification from the appropriate body.
Adejuwonbi indicted the Chairman, Ikosi/Isheri Local Council Development Area, Mr Abdulfatai Oyesanya, as the prime mover of the demolition of the market.
She said: “We came from Ikosi/Isheri fruit market. I am one of the sellers at the market. On Friday morning, caterpillars came to demolish our market without any notice.
“Our leader, as well as the chairman of the local government said that if we wait, they will kill all of us.
“We were told they have sold out the market to a contractor to build an estate where we are selling our produce.
“We cannot challenge them. They even fired guns at us. Some people died, while some people sustained serious injuries.
“Amidst all this, the Chairman of Ikosi/Isheri Local Government, Fatai Oyesanya was standing upstairs telling the caterpillars to move on and if anyone waits, they should kill all of us.”
Adejuwonbi said that they had to run for dear lives since they did not have any weapon on them.
According to her, this is why we decide to come here to plead with the Lagos Assembly and the governor to come to our aid and deliver us.
Also, another trader, Mrs Yemisi Balogun, urged the government to come to their aid by helping them to get their market back.
Balogun said that their livelihoods depended largely on the market to cater for the needs of their children and households.
She said: “Since they say the government is for the people, so, we are here to cry to them that they should come to our aid and deliver us from the destruction of our market.
“It is from the market we get money to send our children to school. By doing this to us, we are going to suffer. That is why we are here to come and plead for intervention in this issue.
“Most of us went to school. It is not everyone that will use his certificate to work in the office. So, that is why we are selling market.”
Responding, Mr Rotimi Olowo, representing Somolu Constituency 1, expressed dissatisfaction with the demolition allegedly without due process.
Olowo, however, assured the protesters that the House Leader had directed the council chairman to put a stop on the demolition.
He said: “I am assuring you that the Speaker, Mr Mudashiru Obasa and other colleagues, will be interested in this case and they will call the chairman.
“We have told the chairman to stop the demolition and I am sure we are going to resolve it. I know you will get justice.
“If we want to move Lagos forward by doing it in a modern way, we have to do it in a methodologically, we cannot just rush into it.
“Even if that market is to be used for housing purposes, it behoves on the local government chairman and the state to have understanding with you.
“If there is need to move you to another location, it has to be done in an appropriate manner. They cannot just come overnight and destroy your property. It is quite unfortunate.
“Mr Speaker and your House have listening ears. We will report this today at the plenary under Urgent Matters of Public Importance.