* 28 injured traders discharged

· Crisis not ethnic – market leader  declares

By  Evelyn Usman and Efe Onodjae

The death toll in the clash between members of the Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria, RTEAN and the Task Force of the Alaba International Market, Ojo area of Lagos rose to three yesterday, with the confirmation of two additional deaths.

Identities of those who lost their lives were: Onyeku Nwatu, Innocent Chinedu and  Sunday Nwora.

Twenty-eight other traders who sustained varying degrees of injuries were discharged from Onyems B hospital located on Oba Dandu street, Alaba, yesterday.

Addressing journalists on the clash that paralyzed commercial activities at the popular market, the Chairman of the  Alaba International Amalgamated Traders Association Council of Sectional Heads, Chief Amajuoyi Camillus, lamented that traders were leaving the market in droves owing to the excess extortion by members of RTEAN and Park Administration.

He revealed that between the Volkswagen bus stop and Alaba International, there were about 10 toll points where motorists and customers were extorted daily.

He said the extortionists forcefully collected between N70 and N100 thousand from vehicles before they would be allowed to convey goods to various areas. Failure to part with the amount usually resulted in brutality on the part of extortionists.

He said:“The market contributes a reasonable amount of revenue to the Federal, State and Local Governments’ coffers respectively, through its unquantifiable International and Local Trade. It will therefore be unwise and unreasonable, to allow Non-State Actors like the operators of RTEAN/ Park Administration, on whose behalf these miscreants claim to be working, to short-change these national and state assets which house several thousands of big, medium and small businesses.

“Suffice it to also mention that traders are now vacating the market in droves mainly due to the complete blockage of the only Alaba International market road because of the excess monetary/financial extortion going on with impunity, especially between Volkswagen Bus Stop, through to Alaba International market, with almost eight to ten collection toll points.

 This has made it so unbearable for traders, customers and commuters as they are forced to pay huge sums of money at these toll points.

Operation of New Loading Point

“Sadly, only yesterday, (Wednesday)we woke up to the information that a new Loading Point was to be instituted on the already bad and constricted Alaba International Market road that has already been taken over by petty traders who were given portions to display their wares to the detriment of existing shop owners, thereby completely defacing and polluting the entire atmosphere and surroundings of this market of International repute.

“To ensure that this issue was handled amicably, the Alaba International Amalgamated traders association leaders quickly contacted the  Chairman of Ojo Local Government who promised to call them to order. We also contacted the Interim Caretaker Committee

“Chairman of RTEAN/Park Administrator also promised to call them to order. Based on these assurances, virtually all our trading members with their families commenced their trading and marketing activities as usual. Surprisingly, to our utter dismay on Tuesday,  October 19, 2022, we were visited with chaos in our market as these hoodlums led by Obj, Sheyi and  Sodiq and their cohorts whose numbers we cannot quantify or enumerate, trooped into the market with guns, cutlasses, cudgels, and other dangerous weapons, shooting, killing and maiming both buyers, traders and those who were doing legitimate businesses.

“Everybody scampered for safety. Some were killed, some were wounded and others are still lying in critical condition in some hospitals.

“It is a well-known fact that under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (1999 as Amended), every market has laws guiding them. To the best of our knowledge, Alaba international Market is operating under the headship of the Ojo  Local Government authority. But these hoodlums/ miscreants, who claimed to be working on behalf of  RTEAN/Park Administration publically boast that they are above both the law and the Ojo  Local Government in particular”.

Crisis not ethnicity based 

On his part, the Public Relations Officer of the association, Buba Mohammed, clarified that the clash was not an ethnic war, pointing out that members of the ruling All Peoples Congress party in the area were from different ethnicities.