4th March, 2013
Ten suspected Bakassi Boys and 32 traders arrested at Ladipo Market in Lagos, Southwest Nigeria , last week have been sent to jail by the Special Offences Court sitting in Alausa, Ikeja.
The 10 suspects were arrested last Monday when the auto-spare parts market was shut by the Lagos State government, while the other 32 traders were arrested last Wendesday as they were trying to open their shops to remove some of their wares.
At least, 22 other traders were arrested last Thursday and Friday on the same offence by taskforce officials.
The 10 suspected Bakassi boys were charged on a three-count charge.
They were charged for obstructing inspector Yusuf and Supol Taiwo, an offence punishable under the state environmental sanitation law.
They were also charged for conducting themselves in a riotous manner likely to cause or breach peace in the market through the use of charms and machetes in the market.
The 10 suspects, at the court’s sitting, pleaded not guilty and were granted bail with N50, 000 each with two sureties each. The sureties must not be civil servant in the state and must have landed properties in Lagos with an evidence of tax payment for 12 years.
The suspects were transferred to the Badagry Prison pending when they would be able to perfect their bail conditions.
Also, the other 32 suspects arrested pleaded guilty and were sentenced to 60 days imprisonment without option of fine.
Meanwhile, Governor Babatunde Fashola has given conditions for the re-opening of the market, saying that once the traders spearhead a clean-up exercise and formally undertake that never again would trading take place on the road or the edges of the canal, the market would be re-opened.
Fashola, who visited the market on Sunday, lamented the wanton environmental degradation.
Fashola had visited the market following pleas by the traders and the leadership of the Igbo Council in Lagos State led by Professor Anya O. Anya, who visited the State House, Ikeja last Monday to present its new council members to the governor.
The governor described the state of the market and its environs as “massive degradation of a section of Lagos,” saying that the good thing in the visit was that the traders had shown they were ready to make amends.
“It is a massive degradation of a section of Lagos and this is not acceptable. People should not carry on like this. But what is, perhaps, worthy of note is that those who are involved have seen the error of what they have done here and are ready to work with us to clean-up and I have said here that they must take the lead.
The canal there poses a lot of danger and we are expecting heavy rains. I don’t want to come back here to pick any dead body. We built the canal and we must make it work by not trading on it and not dumping refuse in it. People told me that they picked engine parts, spare-parts and other things from the canal. It must stop,” the governor said, adding that there is now an agreement between the traders and the government to work together to clean up the place and continue with the business there.
Directing that the traders must work with the Mushin Local Government authorities to effect the clean-up and sanitation of the market, he declared, “The only reason we are in government is to make you prosper but you must help us do that. You are going to work with the Ministry of Environment. You are going to clean up the place yourselves.
“You will clean first and when you have done it, I will come back and I will bring members of your leadership who came to me and we will say this is the agreement now. We will sign a new agreement, nobody trades on the road, it must be behind the property line. Nobody trades on the pavement, it is for pedestrians.”
President General of the Ladipo Central Executive of the Auto Dealers’ Association, Comrade Ikechukwu Animalu, agreed that the environmental situation at the market was bad and apologized on behalf of the traders, pledging that he would lead them to clean it up as well as ensure that there would be no more trading either on the road or on the canal.