By Bose Adebayo and Olasunkanmi Akoni
I told my brother to quit this place but for five years all my pleas fell on deaf ears. I have a befitting accommodation in Mowe where I gave him three rooms but he ignored my advice, prefering to occupy two shops here with his four wives and 15 children.â€
Those were the words of 50 years old Mufutau Aare, a native of Modakeke in Osun State as he assisted his younger brother, Ajibola Aare,Â to salvage his property when a team of Lagos State Lagos State Task Force on Environmental and Special Offences (Enforcement)Â stormed the popular Akanimodo and Ajelogo Market of Mile 12, in Agboyi_Ketu, Local Council Development Area (LCDA), located off Ikorodu Road to carry out a demolition exercise.
Ajibola, a plank seller, was among the numerous traders whose shanties and lock-up shops were demolished in the wee hours of last Sunday. Many of them trade and reside in the shops in the absence of befitting accommodations.
â€œI paid the sum of N3,600 in the shop I occupiedÂ and carried out my business activities for the past 10 years,â€ said a mother of four, Madam Adejoke Ayinde, a native of Badagry.
â€œI started living in this place four years ago when my husband abandoned me and the children. You must have a minimum of N80,000 to secure an apartment in Mile 12. As soon as your rent expires, you are required to pay annually or bi-annually. That was why I started sleeping in the shop,â€ she told Vanguard Metro.
Although many of them could not hold back their tears, but they commended the government for a job well done. â€œWe cannot tell you lies, the government has for the past two years informed us about the demolitionÂ but our landlords told us they have settled some government officials. For instance, our landlords collected six months rentage from us which they(supposedly) took to Alausa last Friday,â€ claimed Mrs Ejire Abiodun and Kemi Oriowo.
But rather than joinÂ this chorus of commendation ofÂ government for its action, others berated it, saying they were not notified. â€œOnly few people were notified; my landlordÂ came here to collect N12,000 a week ago and he did not tell me anything. He only told us government wanted to construct a drainage and that only few shops would be demolished. Government owes us the duty to protect our lives; there should be radio and television jingles or newspaper announcement any time they want to carry out demolition,â€ chorused Oladeji Omoyale and Madam Sobowale Adeyemi.
While the exercise brought wailing and lamentation to some people, some residents in the area sighed with relief. Many of them told Vanguard Metro that the demolition would at least put to an end the frequent ritual sacrifices carried out in the market.
â€œSome of the traders have been performing a lot of sacrifice in this market. They said the purposeÂ was so that Fashola would forget about the demolition. According to them, the Governor would be so engaged with other state matters that he will forget about this place. They have killed a lot of rams and goats but all proved abortive,â€ they said.
According to them, the market had more or less become a hide out for some hoodlums who used the place for their nefarious activities. â€œI have lived here for a period of 17 years. Initially the place was peaceful until recently when residents could not sleep with their eyes closed. The place became a breeding ground for hoodlums who defecate and liter the environment with refuse. Many of them are street urchins who loot and rob people any time they have the advantage to do so. Many of them who passed the night in our compound claimed they had paid a lot of money to their local government chairman not knowing the money did not get to Fashola,â€ said Mrs. Oluwakemi Peters.
When Vanguard Metro visited the scene on Monday, the task force team and other law enforcement agents were at alert to prevent hoodlums from taking advantage of the demolition to loot and steal. â€œThe exercise was successful and we have a lot of cooperation from the traders,â€ said one of them who pleaded anonymity.
Unlike the previous demolition exercise in the state, some of the traders said they were allowed to pack their wares before the task officials began their operation. â€œThey waited for us to pack our goods before they started their operation. Even if they give us three years notice, our people will not comply; they will say na lie, na lie until it is too late to save anything,â€ said the traders.
Chief Superintendent of Police, Bayo Suleman who led the team informed thus: â€œThere has been no resistance so far and we are not expecting any because they were duly informed by their leaders who we had several meetings regarding the need for this exercise. We informed them that all the illegal structures in the area would be demolished..
â€œYou can see that most of them had packed all their wares and those who are yet to do so are making arrangements to that effect before the bulldozer will get to them. It is easier for us to carry out the exercise without people complaining that their goods were destroyed during the exerciseâ€.
*Rubbles everywhere afterÂ the demolition exercise. Pix by Bose Adebayo.