By Emeka Aginam
For the street urchins and persons bringing in stolen Laptops and GSM handsets for sale in the Computer Village Ikeja , it may not be business as usual again, as the Police post in the market have intensified efforts to arrest culprits.
A close monitoring ofÂ market activitiesÂ last week inÂ Lagos showed that PoliceÂ Criminal investigate Department, (CID)Â now move round the market,Â stopping and searching suspects who carry Laptops and Handsets in their bags either for sale or repair.
The largest African market, the Computer Village, it was learnt,Â was regarded as the final destination for any stolen GSM handsets or Laptops across the country as a result of market for such productsÂ said to be inÂ high demand.
Just last week,Â a Police Officers were parading the market in search of suspects. But one of the Police Officers who spoke to Vanguard CyberLIFE on the ground of anonymityÂ disclosed that a good number of suspectsÂ have been apprehended over stolen Laptops and GSM handsets.
â€œWhen we apprehend some of these suspects, we usually ask for the receipt ofÂ purchase and all details. At the end of the day, some of the suspects will not come back for further interrogation or collect back the product after thorough investigationsÂ meaning that the product may have been stolen. We have had many cases here. We have many exhibits here which are usually returned to the head office.
â€œWe want to make Computer Village the best ICT hub in the West African market. We want to make it a safe place to buy ICT products. We will continue to do thisÂ until sanity is restored,â€ he said.
Although selling of stolen items is not limited to Computer Village alone, the Police Officer further disclosed that some of theseÂ Laptops and GSM handsets ranges from new ones, fairly used and refurbished.
â€œWhen you see these suspects carrying items in their bags, you may not know that the products were stolen.
â€œBut we will continue to do our work to safeguard this market against stolen products. We will do our best. It is a challenge dealing with it.
We deal with other cases but we cannot deal with street traders. That is not our mandate but if the Community Development Association or the Computer vendors in the marketÂ ask us do that, we will deal with the issue otherwise, it is not our mandateâ€ he said.
According to him, street trading isÂ a global issue that is not limited to Computer Village, adding that different associations in the market may wish to come together to do something about it otherwise their activities will continue to be threatened.
Unfortunately, efforts by the security agents and theÂ Lagos State Ministry of Environment to stop street hawking at the Computer Village may not have yieldedÂ the expected resultsÂ Â as street hawkersÂ are unrelenting in their bid to sell “something” to make ends meet.
The current scenario in the market, according to findings,Â has resulted in heavy humanÂ traffic, makingÂ it difficult for visitors to freely move from one shop to the other.
A close monitoring of business activities last week and this MondayÂ in theÂ major streets of theÂ markets including Oremeji, Otigba, Anibiyi, Adapele and many more revealed that hawkers have again, returned back to their normalÂ businessÂ despite ban by the regulatory authorities.
This development which has threatened free movement of person and goos, according to findings by Vanguard CyberLIFE,Â has continued to worry visitors,Â ICT vendors, the Lagos State Ministry of environment, security agents andÂ the Computers and Allied Products Dealers Association of Nigeria, (CAPDAN)
Although there have been occasional raids by security agents, the apparent truth, according to findings is that normal free movement that existed before nowÂ is gradually disappearing by the day, living visitors worse off wheneverÂ theyÂ want to come to the largest African ICT market said to be toast of international inventors to trade.
For many observers, security agents in the market and the Lagos Ministry of EnvironmentÂ mayÂ have been helplessÂ in an attempt to enforce compliance regarding the activities ofÂ these street trading which constitute a major problem in the largest African market.