By Olasunkanmi Akoni & Bose Adelaja, LAGOS
Emotions ran high yesterday, when a widow, 49, Dorothy Dike, and her son, Osinachi Ndukwe, wept openly as they begged for price reduction while their only vehicle bought at the rate of N1.8 million on hired purchase was being auctioned for N450,000.
Lagos State Government through its Ministry of Justice and the state Task Force held a public auction for over 134 abandoned and seized vehicles at Lagos State Task Force headquarters, Alausa, Ikeja, where auctioneers, agents, buyers, and vehicle owners tried to outwit one another.
A private auction house took charge of the event under the supervision of Mrs Arinola Ogbara-Banjoko of Lagos State Special Crimes Coordinator (Mobile Court) and Chief Superintendent of Police, Shola Jejeloye, the Chairman, of the state task force.
At about about 12.35pm, Dorothy and her son who had earlier jumped for joy when their mini bus (Korope), with number plate, ANAMBRA NEN 347 YX, was displayed for auction with an opening bid of N50,000 but the joy was shortlived.
Minutes later, the atmosphere got changed as they wept profusely, rolled on the ground, and begged for a price reduction as the bid kept jerking up and hit N430,000.
The bid was about to close when suddenly the mother and son shouted N450,000 loudly, saying: “Help us, help us, please, don’t increase the price again. We cannot afford this but we are hopeful that the vehicle will be ours so that we can work again and raise money to feed ourselves.”
The Imo State-born widow was heartbroken to the extent that all she could mutter was: “Help me, help me. I am happy to repurchase the bus but the problem is that we cannot afford N450,000.
“I am a widow with two children and I hawk herbs on the streets of Lagos for survival.
“Osinachi is my son and I lost his father three months after delivery and since then, I have been battling to feed my children.
“When we heard that the bus would be auctioned today, we borrowed N59,000 to attend the event. Unfortunately, the price for the bus closed at N450,000.”
I lost my 3-yr-old girl while in prison—Son
In an emotional laden voice, Osinachi, 31, narrated how he became a commercial bus driver due to unemployment.
According to him, “I bought the bus at N1.8 million on hired purchase in 2021 and was plying Ijegun- Cele Expressway route. The bus was three months old and I had remitted N300,000 when I drove against traffic in Cele area and the bus was impounded.
“Not only that, I was sentenced to three years imprisonment, which I completed recently, but before the completion, information reached me that my three-year-old daughter was ill due to lack of fund and before I completed the jail term, she had died.
“I am here with my mother with the expectation that we will buy the bus at the rate of N50,000. Surprisingly, the price closed at N450,000 and we have 48 hours to complete the payment.
“We have sold most of our belongings to feed and we are left with nothing. This is a great problem to us. My father died while I was three years old and my mother has been there for me but there is no way she can raise N450,000. Who will I turn to at a time many Nigerians are finding it difficult to feed? I don’t know what to do again.”
The first vehicle to be auctioned was a Toyota Avensis which price closed at N1,025,000.
Another was a white bus with number plate, KID 90 YD, with the price starting from N50,000 and closed at N670,000 while the price of a Toyota Corolla started with N400,00 and closed at N1.9 million.
Similarly, the price of a mini bus EPE 852 XS, kicked off from N50,000 and closed at N500,000.