By Ola Ajayi & Adeola Badru
Ibadan—SANITY was thrown to the winds yesterday in Ibadan, Oyo State capital, as butchers in the popular Bodija International Market engaged policemen in a clash over relocation of an abattoir from the popular Bodija Market to a new site provided by Oyo State Government in Akinyele Local Government Area.
When the dust settled, five persons were reportedly dead, several others injured, cars and the police station inside the market set ablaze, along with vehicles and motorcycles parked in the station.
Though the state’s Commissioner of Police, Mr. Abiodun Odude, confirmed the violent clash, he put the casualty figure at two.
When Vanguard visited the scene, broken bottles, spots of blood stains and personal effects of victims littered everywhere.
Some of the traders, who pleaded anonymity for fear of being arrested, alleged that the fracas was triggered by the policemen, who released volleys of bullets to scare the traders, when they stormed the market yesterday morning.
A man said: “When the policemen arrived, they started shooting sporadically, which made thousands of traders scamper for safety.
“They wanted to force us to relocate to the new site at Moniya. Government sent some of its people to demolish our stalls and shops here.”
He continued: “When the policemen came, we ran away initially, but later decided to claim our rights. They have killed five people. They killed three butchers, one hairdresser, a lady and an aluminum seller.
“These are the blood stains of two of them. All the corpses are still in front of the police station as we speak. That is why the policemen did not want you newsmen to see them.”
Further attempts by Vanguard to see the corpses were rebuffed by a mobile policeman, who said: “Whether you are a journalist or not, go back” and he started preparing his AK-47 rifle to fire.
The abattoir section of the market was a ghost of itself as all stalls were deserted.
Speaking at the scene, Oyo State Commissioner of Police, Abiodun Odude, said: “You can see we are at the scene of the crime.
“We understand that at least two people were gunned down and there was an attempt to attack this police station; they quickly mobilised. We are salvaging the situation.”
Oyo shuts Bodija Market
In a statement by the Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Mr. Toye Arulogun, Oyo State Government shut Bodija Market for security reasons.
It read: “This is an aftermath of the sporadic shooting, which occurred earlier today (yesterday) in the market and its environs.”
The Aare Laatosa Local Council Development Area, LCDA, Chairman, Mr. Adekunle Oladeji, said the closure is to prevent the loss of lives and properties, stressing that it is also to guard against the escalation of the violence in the market to other parts of the state.
Oladeji said security agencies have been intimated about the situation in the market to maintain law and order.
He urged the people to be law abiding, warning that anyone found wanting will be made to face the full wrath of the law.