Story by Dili Utomi.
The Ndigboamaka Progressive Markets Association, an umbrella body of all major markets Associations has appealed to the general public to disregard any fake news flying around that the Lagos State government has shut down Alaba market and Alaba International.
In an interview with Chief Chinedu Ukatu, a member of the association and a Lagos State Market Advisory Council member, he said that he had refrained from making comments as regards the crisis in Alaba markets all this while but rather choose to seek for solutions to the crisis and put a permanent stop to such crisis going forward, but that it is pertinent this time to clarify some issues due to misconceptions and misinformation flying all over the social media.
Chief Ukatu said “I am a member of the Lagos State Market Advisory Council and was priveledged to have a first hand information from the leadership of Alaba and other stakeholders in the crisis”, he added.
“The crisis erupted when members of the Lagos state Park management mobilised to establish toll collection point directly in front of the Market. Alaba leadership has been engaging them all this while in dialogue on the need to dismantle all illegal structures and all the abandoned vehicles that they use in blocking the roads making it difficult for them and customers to access the market. There has been different types of illegal collection and extortion thereby leading to harassment and molestation of members”.
On the 18th of October 2022, the leaders of Alaba markets got the information that the Lagos Park Management Agency were mobilising to mount a toll Point in front of the market and they quickly contacted the Ojo LGA Chairman who assured them that he will mediate and call them for a meeting the next day which was the 19th of October 2022.
According to the Alaba Market leaders, very early in the morning of the 19th of October, hoodlums and touts mobilised and stormed the market harassing the traders
and singing war songs beating anyone in sight. This action led the traders to start scampering for safety, many were injured in the cause of the violence and one person was confirmed dead.
It is worthy of note to add that it was at this point that the leadership of Alaba Amalgamated traders Association quickly directed that the markets should be shut in order to save lives and properties, to avoid the escalation and reprisals and to douse the tension created by the crises pending the return of peace.
On the 20th of October 2022, Chief Ukatu in his capacity as a member of the Lagos state market Advisory Council and in discharge of his duties as part of their operational guidelines moved to the Alaba and invited the leaders for a meeting, discussions were held there and then Chief Ukatu said that he made contact with the Special Adviser to the Governor on LGA and Community affairs, Hon Kayode Roberts, he is also of the Ministry that supervises the affairs of Markets in Lagos state. The SA agreed to visit Alaba Markets the next day to meet with the Ojo LGA Chairman and with the Leadership of Alaba Amalgamated traders Association to hear them out, sue for peace and profer lasting solutions.
It was aslo noted that the SA kept his words by arriving at Ojo LGA at exactly 10.00am on friday 21st October as scheduled to meet with all the leaders of the Alaba markets at Ojo LGA secretariat.
At the meeting , he expressed regret on what happened, sued for restrain from both parties, thanked everyone for making efforts to reach him and therein directed that all should
accompany him to the scene at the Alaba International Market. They all moved in droves and on arrival at the market, the SA was infuriated by the nuisance caused by street traders, blocking of the roads by the Agberos, and swiftly ordered that all shanties and structures erected illegally on the road should be dismantled forthwith, he also directed that all the illegal structures for toll collections should be dismantled.
The SA called for a meeting of all stakeholders in the crisis and as well as the security agencies by Monday October the 24th 2022 so that he will hear from all parties and resolve the issues at stake permanently for peace to reign, and all accepted.
The meeting was scheduled for 12 noon that Monday and the leadership of Alaba markets came with all the stakeholders and same with the Park Management Agency, all the security agencies were there with other Directors of the Ministry of Local Government and Community affairs.
The meeting eventually commenced by 1pm after some teething problems on harmonizing those to be part of the meeting and because of the crowd that came uninvited to witness the meetings.
Finally, the meeting held and all grey areas were thrashed and the legal department of the Ojo LGA articulated the points of agreement, printed it for the parties to sign and the Security agencies were directed to deal decisively with anyone that defaults on the agreement.
Chief Ukatu who was one of those that should sign as a witness said that he waited and signed his column with some Alaba leaders and left , the legal officer of Ojo LGA promised to reach out to others who are part of the signatory to sign their column and said that he will return the signed copies.
It was on this note that the President of Alaba Amalgamated traders Association announced for the reopening of the market for business on the following day being Tuesday, October 25th 2022.
The Ndigboamaka Progressive Market Association notes that the Lagos state Government never ordered for the closure of the Alaba International market.
They hope that both parties will keep to the terms of the agreement, while they await further resolution of an agreed amount to be paid on the agreed points with the Government.
They ask that everyone disregards the rumour flying around that the Lagos State government shut the Alaba markets, but added that the markets are fully back in operation as they sue for peace and ask all parties to keep to their own sides of the bargain.
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