Officials of the Alimosho Local Government Area of Lagos State early on Saturday demolished no less than 100 shops at the Rauf Aregbesola Modern Market in Iyana-Ipaja, Lagos State.
A correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) who visited the market reports that some of the traders were seen running helter-skelter to remove their goods and valuables there.
Some of them told NAN that they got to the market in the early hours of the day to see that some of its shops were being demolished without any prior notice from the local government.
Other claimed that they got wind of the development through telephone calls from market members that had got to the market at dawn.
The Secretary of the market, Mr Adegbite Omoluabi popularly known as ‘Baale’ said he had no prior knowledge of the demolition.
Omoluabi said, “I don’t know anything about this demolition, I don’t know what is happening. It took us by surprise. I was called on my cell phone that shops were being demolished.”
The scribe, however, said that the traders could not fight the government and win, hence had to agree to whatever the government wanted.
Another trader, Mrs Ajose Laoye, who deals in toiletries said, “This is the height of impunity, it is madness, there was no notice, we got to the market to see this.
“If we were given notice, one or two occupants among 100 shop owners would have packed out.
“Each of us bought his or her shop with huge amount from one of the past administrations of the local government. ”
Laoye, who decried that the market leaders had run away, claimed she kept some money inside her shop which she alleged had got missing.
Similarly, Mrs Bukola Alao, another trader in the market, said that the officials of the council came to the market early in the day to paste notices of demolition.
Immediately they had done that, they began to demolish after taking the photographs of the pasted notices, Alao said.
Alao, however, described the officials as ‘narrow minded and wicked’.
Alhaji Rasheed Ijadunola said that the council had, two years ago, made the move to demolish the market for redevelopment.
However, town planners from the state Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development stopped it, he said.
According to him, the town planners, in a letter to the council and the leadership of the market union, stated that the site could not accommodate two storey- buildings as planned by the council.
Ijadunola said he lost about N3.5million in the demolition apart from N800, 000 he used to buy the shop in 2002.
He, however, urged the council to consider the occupiers of the shops first after the completion of the redevelopment.
He appealed to the LG that it should ensure the cost of leasing the shops out then to his members should be affordable.
Mrs Olaide Okupevi, another occupant of one of the shops said, “This is not good, it is unfair and unjust.
“I was still in bed when some of my neighbours called me that our shops were being demolished without prior notice.’’
Okupevi said that the market union and the council had not reached an agreement on the development before the demolition, stressing that she bought her own shop for N850, 000.
Mr Udechukwu Onyekachi, a fabric dealer, said he lost about N500, 000 worth of clothes to the demolition.
However, the Executive Secretary of the Council, Mr Jelili Sulaeman, in a reply to an SMS sent to his cell phone by a correspondent of NAN, said, “Sorry, I’m busy. Call back later’’.