By Olayinka Ajayi
Festac residents and traders at the Olorunda Oyinlola Market on 23 Road, Festac Town, Lagos have berated Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, for giving the go-ahead on the demolition of the market by officials of the Amuwo Odofin Local Government under the supervision of armed soldiers.
Speaking, one of the traders who is also an owner of the structures pleaded anonymity said: “This is devastating, regrettably we sent the urgent appeal to the Governor to intervene in the matter by preventing the Council Chairman Mr Valentine Buraimoh and his officers from carrying out the threat of pulling down the entire market but it appears it fell on deaf ears.
In the same vein, Counsel to the market executives, Mr Ike Onyefulu, said the appeal became necessary to stop the Council authorities from further intimidating traders whose livelihoods are being threatened, He pointed out that at a meeting hosted by the chairman prior to the official letter from the Council, on November 16, 2020, Mr Buraimoh said the planned demolition and reconstruction of the 26-year-old market was at the instance of the Governor.
However, the market leader (Iyaloja), Mrs Taiwo Cookey, described the Olorunda Oyinlola market as the only official, purpose-built, model market in the local government. She traced the history of the market from the time in the 90s when members of the Festac Market Women Association were displaced at the 2nd Gate Market, Agboju and how, as a lasting solution, the Federal Housing Authority, FHA, officially allocated the land space on 23 Road for a permanent site for the dwellers in Festac. She disclosed that the structures were built by individual landowners based on council specification and supervision.
Also, residents of FESTAC town in 23 roads, Barista Okoye Martin’s said: ” This is one too many for Lagosians. Why will Gov Sanwo-Olu be fingered on this again? We are still trying to gather ourselves together on the effect of the soldiers he gave the go-ahead to shoot at peaceful protesters at Lekki.
” There is no two ways about it, the demolition is politically motivated as this move is targeted at demoralising we Igbo as most of the lockup shops are owned by Igbo.”
Another resident, Mallam Hassan said:” Why is the government not sensitive, why will they embark on the demolition of the market in December when most traders already stocked up their shops for end of the year sales. And I learned the Amuwo LG boss want to recontest. We are waiting for him at the polls.”
Also speaking, resident of FESTAC, Mrs Okeowo added:” I went to get something for my family when I noticed armed military men guarding the LG personnel demolishing the structures”.
However, efforts to reach LG boss through his media adviser, Alex Kolawole was abortive as the phone was switched off.