By Daniel Adewole
The lingering leadership tussle at the popular Aguiyi Ironsi International market, Ladipo, Lagos has taken a turn for the worse. This followed the unexpected incarceration of the President of the traders union, Jonathan Okoli, at the Ikoyi prisons over what his followers called ‘trumped up charges’.
As at yesterday, most of the traders trooped out in protest against the continued detention of their president at the prison without carrying out investigations into the charges against him.
The Secretary of the traders association, Christian Ibegbunem who narrated their ordeal to Crime Alert alleged that a serving female Commissioner of Police was behind the plight of their President adding that she cooked up stories against the leadership of the market union and used her position to hoodwink both the police and the court.
According to him, “Our President was invited by the State Security Service, SSS, at Shangasha few weeks ago. When he got to their office, they directed him to go to the Police headquarters in Ikeja. When he got there, he met with the police authorities and he was asked to explain what he knew about the crisis in the market.
“He took time to narrate the genesis of the problem in the market, exposing the machinations of the serving female Commissioner of Police to enthrone one of her sons as the leader of the market union when he is not even a trader. He supported his explanations with documents and ended up telling them that their counterparts at the Force Criminal Investigations Department, Alagbon have been directed by the Inspector—General of Police to investigate the case.
He also dismissed claims by the petitioners acting under the aegis of concerned traders that he attempted to kill them stating that all the photographs tendered with the petition was that of members of his association who were wounded by the thugs hired at the instance of the son of the serving female Commissioner of police to disrupt the smooth running of the market by their genuine leaders.
“After his honest explanations, we were shocked that he was taken to the State Criminal Investigations Department at Panti, from where he was hastily charged to court few days later. At the court, the state lawyer urged them to remand him for attempted murder. This was coming when no investigation was carried out by the police.
All efforts by our lawyer to stop the kangaroo trial failed even after he pointed out that the case was a bailable one. They ended up throwing him into Ikoyi prison where he will await for the advise of Lagos State Director of Public Prosecution, DPP.
What we are saying is that the whole trial is a calculated attempt to detain him indefinitely at the prison while the son of the serving female Commissioner of Police who is a land developer and not trader, takes over the running of our market against the wishes of majority of the traders whose hard-earned money was used to build the market.
Our passionate appeal is that the Inspector-General of Police whose antecedents on the issue of justice for the downtrodden is well known, should quickly step into this case by ordering his men at Panti to withdraw the matter without delay and hand over all investigations to Alagbon where he earlier directed that it should be taken to. Anything short of this is a travesty of justice and the repercussion is far-reaching because tension is very high in the market.
It should be noted that the so-called concerned traders that signed the petition were just former leaders in the market who were indicted over financial misappropriation. They woke up overnight and decided to team up with developers who are just after money to destabilize our business in the market. Our President has been trying to calm the situation from prison but I am not sure it will last long,”he stated.