THE popular Idumota Market in Lagos Island is usually a beehive every day of the week. As early as 7am, traders will always be found there displaying different types of wares. The market has for many years been a popular converging point of sellers and buyers as attested to by the number of people that throng for sundry commercial activities.
In year 2010, the populous market received a boost from the Lagos State government when some shanties and illegal structures were demolished, paving way for improved vehicular and human movement.
Monday August 29, 2011 which was the eve of the Ramadan, was not an exception as shoppers thronged the market to buy various items in preparatory for the much awaited Id-El Fitri which many usually celebrate in a big way.
However, things took a tragic turn that Monday just as the peak of market activities. Tragedy struck at about 2.30pm when nobody expected it and this caused a stampede in the market. Peace returned after a while.
The incident which occurred at the Moshalasi area of the market involved a pregnant woman who slumped and died on the spot. According to eye witnesses account, the woman who could not be immediately identified had on that fateful day lost N60,000 to nimble-fingered pick-pocket thieves.
She was said to have travelled from the Republic of Benin to Idumota to purchase some items for the Ramadan. It was to be an aborted mission that climaxed tragically in death.
Although nobody could ascertain weather she was a first time visitor to the market but eye witnesses have it that soon after entering the market, she called her people in Benin to inform them of her safe arrival to Lagos. But unknown to her people back home, that was the last time she would be calling them.
An eye witness, Madam Comfort Asiegbu, who spoke with Vanguard Metro, VM, said the deceased started her shopping around 2pm by visiting a boutique at the Moshalashi area where she picked up some items. But when she opened her bag to take money to pay for her purchases, she discovered to her shock that the N60,000 she kept there was missing. On close examination she saw a deep cut on the side of the bag through which the money was removed.
The Beninoise trader, who could not control her emotion, reportedly broke into tears which attracted some sympathisers who tried to calm her down. But help came rather too late as she slumped and died on the spot.
Another eye witness, Bola Akinade, said the deceased told them she confirmed the said amount before she proceeded to enter any shop to be sure of how many items to purchase.
When effort to revive her failed, the sympathisers searched her hand bag to see if any of her relatives could be contacted on phone. But all they could find were a dead phone, an handkerchief and a list of the materials she wanted to buy. They did not, however, give up as they transferred her Sim card to another phone and got a display of some of her contacts. One of these contacts, a relative, told them the deceased was a native of Benin Republic and that she travelled to Lagos in the early hours of that day to meet her customers’ request and she was billed to return same day.
While some of the eye witnesses attributed her death to heart failure, others said it was as a result of shock arising from the loss of her shopping money. They, however, called on the Lagos State government to beef up security in the market, saying this would improve patronage as well as stop untimely death of traders.
‘’The deceased travelled to Lagos for business, but all she got is death, ’’ intoned one Nnamdi Uchenna, shaking his head in sorrow.