14th May, 2012
With the new twist in the crisis rocking the Aguiyi Ironsi International Market, Ladipo, Mushin, Lagos, Southwest Nigeria, armed thugs are now poised for war.
The Chairman of Mushin Local Government Area, Mr. Babatunde Adepitan has therefore raised the alarm over the importation of armed thugs at the market after the Lagos State House of Assembly dissolved its leadership last week, an action that failed to bring a lasting peace to the market.
The Assembly in its resolution last week dissolved all factions in the market and ordered Mushin Local Government to set up a caretaker committee that will run its affairs for three months before the election.
The alleged hiring of thugs popularly known as Bakassi Boys from the Southeast was in response by a factional leader of the market on Friday, Chief Jonathan Okoli, who is believed to be against the dissolution of the market leadership by the state Assembly.
Adepitan alleged that Chief Okoli has formed a terror group terrorising the state.
He appealed to all the security agencies to intervene because the situation was so bad that there is serious threat to life and property not only in Mushin but in Lagos State generally.
When P.M.NEWS visited the market, the thugs were seen with their knives and they wore red attire. They were deployed to the market gates and at strategic positions around the market.
When Okoli was contacted, he denied the allegation and said that the traders wanted him as their leader.
P.M.NEWS gathered that Okoli had taken the matter to the House and all factions were invited to their sitting where the crisis was discussed.
The House later discovered that Okoli’s tenure had lapsed since 2007 and he refused to conduct election and hand over to a new exco.
This caused disaffection and crises in the market since then.
Adepitan told journalists in Lagos that Chief Okoli has refused to abide by the resolution of the house and alleged that he is threatening to maim and kill anybody that comes to the market to supplant his leadership.
The council boss also alerted the public that massive looting has been going on in the market after the House passed the resolution lat week.
The Mushin council boss alleged that Okoli was busy forcing the traders to pay N30,000 each per shop in preparation for the battle ahead.
The market has about 2,000 shops, P.M.NEWS gathered.
The crisis led to the leadership of the market breaking into about five factions led by different leaders. After the factionalisation, the market was shut because of filth by the Lagos State Ministry of the Environment.
After several peace moves to reopen the market, government discovered that the fierce fight for leadership has led to the neglect of the market in terms of sanitation. It therefore dissolved the leadership of the market and set up a caretaker committee which had remained inactive.
In March when the crisis took a turn for the worse, Adepitan was battered by thugs allegedly recruited by a factional leader.
Some traders were also attacked during the March peace talks.
Four of them were seriously injured and taken to a private hospital in Lagos for treatment.
Armed policemen and mobile cops drafted to the market were also attacked and chased away by the thugs brought from the Southeast.