By Esther Onyegbula
A group of traders in Agboju Market, Amuwo-Odofin, Festac Town, Lagos State, has appealed to the state government to stop its task force from demolishing and taking over their source of livelihood.
The traders, who said they would be negatively affected by the forceful proposed takeover of the market, alleged that only one of them had been behind the recent unrest in the market.
In a peaceful protest on Monday, the traders who marched to Amuwo-Odofin Local Government Area were seen carrying various placards with different inscriptions such as “Sanwo-Olu save us from land grabbers,” “We are traders not drug dealers,” among others.
Developer points fingers
On his part, the developer in charge of Agboju Market that rented out space to the traders, Mr. Gilbert Okereke, said he had an agreement with the state government in 2010.
He added that the late ‘Iya-Oloja’ (market leader), Mrs. Abibatu Mogaji, was a party to the agreement.
According to the developer, “a committee, which was headed by Mr. S. A. Ajose, was constituted and I was given the go-ahead to develop the land for a period of 38 years.
“They promised to give me a letter of approval within 60-days, but till this moment, I am yet to get the approval from the government.”
Okereke further said: “The late Alhaja Mogaji was so kind to me. Hence I named the plaza after her to immortalise her.
“But some persons are instigating the current Iya Oloja against me over Agboju Market.”
One of the affected traders, Ismail Ibrahim, said: “We came here to defend our rights. I have been selling in this market for the past 15 years and we are not into sales of illicit drugs as alleged.
“The betrayer among us has been giving us trouble since she was sent away from the market. She even threatened us with OPC and thugs.”
Efforts to speak with the Chairman of Amuwo-Odofin Council over the Agboju Market matter proved abortive as security agents prevented newsmen from entering the premises.
However, when Vanguard contacted Chairman of Lagos State Task Force, CSP Olayinka Egbeyemi, on the market issue, he noted that the concerned area was the government’s property.
He noted that the government wants to make use of it for the good of all.