By OLASUNKANMI AKONI, BOSE ADELAJA, MONSUR OLOWOOPEJO & DONALD ARJI
…Arrests 10 armed bandits, recovers dangerous weapons
LAGOS—LAGOS State Government Monday made good its threat to shut down the popular auto spare parts market, Ladipo in Mushin area of the state for allegedly contravening the State Sanitation law, paralysing business activities of traders among other users of the market.
Arrest and recovery of weapons
During the exercise the taskforce claimed 10 suspected armed bandits were arrested from a section of the market. The taskforce said they included five hoodlums who initially prevented the taskforce from carrying out the operation.
However, Vanguard gathered that those arrested were members of the proscribed “Bakassi Boys” put in place by the union to provide security and check other criminal activities in the market.
One of the suspects, Samson Apeh said: “We are not criminals. We are security guards employed by the President of the market union. All we do here is to protect the goods of the traders. The machetes and other arms found with us are security equipment used for protecting the stalls from thieves who always attack the market at the close of the day.”
Commissioner’s visit, warning
Before the closure, Commissioner for the Environment, Mr. Tunji Bello, had visited the market and decried the wanton degradation of the environment including filthiness of the area, warning that if nothing was done, the market would be shut.
However, the traders were said to have taken government’s threat lightly and did nothing to remedy the situation until officials of the Lagos State Taskforce on Environmental and Special Offences (Enforcement) Unit stormed the market to shut it.
Before the closure, it was gathered that trading activities usually took place on the streets without regard to the law against such activities.
Also, shops, attachments, were built around the market/canals while abandoned vehicles parked within the market, indiscriminately.
Vanguard gathered that as early as 4a.m., hundreds of armed taskforce officials led by its Chairman, Chief Superintendent of Police, Bayo Suleiman, stormed the market and shut it down having dispersed the traders.
An Armoured Personnel Carrier, APC, was stationed at the Toyota end of the Apapa-Oshodi expressway, while the area was barricaded, although some of the traders claimed they were caught unawares.
Issues wrong with the market
Taskforce Chairman, Suleiman, claimed that there were several issues wrong in the market, ranging from hooliganism, lack of toilet facilities, degradation of the environment with diesel among others.
He said: “The state government had issued several warnings to the traders without result and their action had posed serious threat to the environment. The Commissioner for the Environment has visited this place and advised the traders accordingly, but nothing was done. We came here two weeks ago, but the officials of the market did not show up. There was serious trading going on in the streets and there were lots of shanties here. We shall make sure that this time around, proper sanitation is done by the traders before the market will be re-opened and they have to submit to the chairman of Mushin Local Government.”
On when the market will be re-opened, Suleiman said: ’’I have no authority to disclose when it will be re-opened but I am sure the traders know what is expected of them.’’