The displaced Owonifari Electronics Market, Oshodi, Lagos traders have lamented the manner in which they were forced to leave the market, crying that they were given a very short notice prior to the demolition by the Lagos State government on Tuesday, January 5, 2016.
According to the traders, they were issued a two week notice which they said was too short, while others cried they were not given any such notice before the bulldozers swept away their shops.
ENCOMIUM Weekly spoke with some of the affected traders, the secretary of the traders union and the Lagos Assembly member representing Oshodi/lsolo constituency 1 and they all barred their minds on the matter.
‘Demolition was painful’ – Hon. Olusola Hakeem
Hon. Olusola Sokunle Hakeem, is the Honourable Member representing Oshodi/Isolo constituency 1. ENCOMIUM Weekly spoke with him about the Oshodi electronics market that was demolished and how the traders would be pacified.
I don’t know how to place the word ‘impression’. The demolition was painful. One thing that is very paramount is that, before the demolition, government of the state had called for a meeting with the leaders of the market concerning the demolition. When we were briefed about the issue, I stressed that there should be an alternative and they said the alternative was ready.
They said Isopako (Sawmill) was ready and I made them understand Isopako is expensive for this people because Isopako is from N500,000 to N1 million and above. I was told the shops will be subsided to N5000 per month after all that was said. I reasoned with them because the demolition had to do with development and what we are clamouring for in the state is development.
If that is what we are looking for and government is ready to do it, it is better we support them. The alternative which is N5000 per month is what we should lay emphasis on now. So, if government now goes contrary to what they promised us, we can now write a petition through the honourable representing Oshodi/Isolo constituency 1.
That mean you are in support of government action?
Not that I am aware of government action, we are all government and I’m part of it.
How do you think the issue will be resolved to pacify the affected people.
Before the demolition, I advised that, providing an alternative was paramount. If that was settled, I think we have pacified them.
‘Government did not relocate anybody’ – Mr. Nnamdi Ainikachukwu
Mr. Ainikachukwu is the secretary of the traders of the demolished electronics market at Oshodi, Lagos. He explained to ENCOMIUM Weekly, via phone interview, reasons Lagos State Government gave for demolishing the market and how millions was lost to the demolition.
Some people said they were not given notice, while some said they were given but it was short. Were you informed the shops would be demolished?
What actually happened was that the notice they ought to have given us should have been a written one but the notice was verbal. The government just came to us and said we should vacate our shops by December 31, 2015. Oral notice can’t be said to be authentic.
What we heard was that the shops were demolished on court order. How true is that?
Lagos State government said court gave them the order to demolish our market? (laughs) I am not aware of that because we appeared in court for once. I don’t know how true that is.
How long was the notice they gave?
They gave us the verbal notice on December 13, 2015, that we should vacate the shops on December 31, 2015.
What were some of the reasons government gave for demolishing the shops?
Honestly, I don’t see any concrete reason. What they told us was that the market is not supposed to be beside the bridge.
Is it true some of the traders were unable to pack their goods?
Many goods were destroyed with the shops. The market was sealed which could not allow the traders to pack their goods. Millions of naira was lost to the demolition.
But we heard five arms and ammunition were found there?
That is a lie from the pit of hell. It is not true.
We gathered that the traders have been relocated to the Arena Market, Bolade Oshodi. Were all the traders relocated?
Government did not relocate anybody. Everybody found another means for themselves.
Government said the new Isopako is meant for your people?
That is what they said. The fact about the Isopako shops is that the shops are about nine while the shops at the electronics market is 1,300 plus. How will that be enough for us. So, it is not proper. Traders want their shops back and my people are scared to go to Isopako because while they were building that market, a part of it collapsed and killed about five people.
Tell us your name?
My name is Mr. Nnamdi Ainiakachukwu. I am the secretary of the demolished electronics market traders.
‘We are only given two weeks’ – Mr. Uche, victim
We were given two weeks notice and the two weeks was not even enough for us to pack our things. Governor Ambode was here on Thursday, December 31, 2015, to tell us to pack out. We protested but to no avail. The commissioner of Police was there when we spoke with him. He said he does not know anything about it and that it is not within his power to stop the demolition.
On getting here on Wednesday morning, we saw that our shops have been demolished overnight.
What have you lost?
I have lost a lot of money and customers. My goods that have been destroyed will cost about N1 million. We were not allowed to get close to the rumbles to pick anything.
What is your reaction to the demolition?
I am not happy with the governor at all. It is unfair. The place we were asked to move to is not okay for us.
‘This is complete wickedness’ – Anonymous
They told us to leave there on December 31, 2015, but it was not convenient for us to pack our things within the short notice. We actually thought they were joking not until Tuesday night when they demolished the market. They caught us unawares.
What have you lost?
I have lost more than N1 million worth of goods.
What is your reaction to the demolition?
It is mere wickedness. This government is that of impunity. They can do whatever they like at anytime without being sensitive to the plight of the citizens. The place they provided as an alternative is more or less a death trap. We cannot stay there.