6th September, 2010
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has arrested the President of AguiyiÂ Ironsi International Trade Centre, Ladipo Market, Mushin, Lagos, Nigeria for allegedÂ involvement in N680 million fraud.
The President, Chief Jonathan Okoli was alleged to have defrauded the Lagos StateÂ Government, Mushin Local Government and the Traders in the marketÂ Enne and was arrested inÂ his office at Ladipo market.
His arrest, P.M.NEWS gathered, followed a petition to EFCC by a Lagos lawyer and humanÂ rights activist, Femi Falana, to investigate the allegation and bring the president to book.
Okoli has been having a running battle with the traders in the market over the imposition ofÂ levies which the traders refused to pay, this resulted into fracas in the market.
The fracas resulted in the arrest of the leaders of the opposition, Okey Imo and ObiÂ Umuzianwa. They were flown to Abuja but later released on bail.
The cause of the latest crises was that some traders revolted against the leadership ofÂ Chief Okoli, accusing him of defrauding the traders in his dealing with Mushin LocalÂ Government and Lagos State Government.
The aggrieved traders accused Okoli of turning the association into his private business.
According to them, the association generates N5 million monthly as container levy paid onÂ containers entering the market alone, apart from other levies accruing to the union butÂ which are not accounted for.
Trouble started when the leadership asked owners of each shop in the market to pay N11,500.Â The market has about 2,000 shops. The union president claimed that the levy was for tradeÂ permit and auto dealers license approved by the Lagos State government. Also, he was accusedÂ of not accounting for the monies realized, adding that it was the money he was using to runÂ the association.
But the traders rejected it and accused the leadership of mismanagement. To substantiateÂ their allegations, the traders went to Mushin Local Government Area and met with officialsÂ of Lagos state government and discovered that the earlier N17,500 he collected only a paltryÂ N1 million was paid to Mushin Local Government and N2 million to the Lagos State government.
The aggrieved traders were shocked and they instructed their counsel, Femi Falana, to writeÂ to the EFCC to investigate the matter and bring him to the book.
At the time of filing this report, it was not clear whether he has been granted bail. But aÂ source at the EFCC told P.M.NEWS that the allegation was weighty and the commission hasÂ commenced investigation.