Ladipo Market Traders At War Over Baba Oloja

•Ladipo market traders protesting over Baba Oloja in the market

•FILE PHOTO: Ladipo market traders protesting

Ladipo Market traders in Lagos, southwest Nigeria, are at war over the appointment of a market leader (Baba Oloja) to take charge of the market.

A few days ago the traders took to the streets with placards to denounce the appointment of the new market leader identified as Alhaji Oladokun Habib Oki.

The issue has precipitated tension at the popular spare parts market to the extent that the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Mr Umar Manko has summoned the leaders of the traders and Alhaji Oki for a meeting to resolve the crisis.

Baba Oloja, Alhaji Oki installed by late Mogaji
Baba Oloja, Alhaji Oki installed by late Mogaji

P.M.NEWS gathered that Manko summoned the warring parties after fighting broke out at the market last week between the leadership of the market and supporters of Alhaji Oki over who among the parties should be in charge of the market.

Since the installation of Alhaji Oki as Baba Oloja General by the Mushin Local government, the market has not known peace.

The leadership of the market rejected him and alleged that it was a ploy to take over the market from the traders who had invested in the market for over three decades.

There was fracas in the market during last Thurday’s Environmental Sanitation between the traders and supporters of Oki, which resulted in many people sustaining injuries and destruction of properties.

The fighting took a new dimension the next day as the market executives called Ladipo Auto Central Executive Committee, LACEC, and some of its members took to the streets to protest what they described as the imposition of Alhaji Oki as the Babaloja of the market.

LACEC and the traders under it, allegedly on Thursday kicked against Alhaji Oki-led administration over what they described as an attempt to impose his authority on them.

P.M.NEWS gathered that Oki organised some of his loyalists to clean the environment during the weekly environmental sanitation separately, unlike in the past, but they were confronted by the aggrieved members of LACEC who claimed that he was encroaching on their territory.

Addressing the protesters, President General, LACEC, Comrade Ikechukwu Animalu, said that the association which comprises about 34 units rejected the imposition of Oki as the Baba Oloja General of Ladipo market.

“We have 34 existing units in the market. Alhaji Oki, who is also one of our members, controls only a unit and they were not part of the whole thing, only to be told that the Mushin LGA has handed him the entire market to manage.”

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Animalu said Ladipo traders do not want Baba Oloja because of the perculiar nature of the market which harbours mainly the Igbos.

•Ladipo market traders protesting over Baba Oloja in the market
•Ladipo market traders protesting over Baba Oloja in the market

He alleged that it was his attempt to impose his authority on the entire traders in the market that led to the crisis in the market because Igbo traders were attacked by Oki’s supporters.

“We demand a formal election, so that the people will decide who their leader will be if the government insists that we must have Baba Oloja.

“We also appeal to the police to be fair in this controversial matter and call to order those who openly ordered us to either accept the imposition or return to our various states,” he said.

Animalu explained that the protest is to pass a message across that “we do not want his leadership. Rather, a free and fair election should be conducted to pick the leader of the market.”

He wondered why the Area Commander, Zone D, Mushin “would openly ask us to accept Baba Oloja or return to our various states.”

Reacting to the fracas, Alhaji Oki said it was  unfortunate that the incident happened, saying he was ready to meet with aggrieved members of LACEC to find a lasting solution.

He denied that his men attacked anybody and said he was one of those who developed the market and had invested in the market over the years.

Oki also said he was nominated two years ago to be installed as the Baba Oloja of the market, adding that LACEC, through several petitions frustrated that move and the process was delayed.

“However, two months ago, the late Abibat Mogaji finally installed me as baba Oloja General of the market and the Mushin LGA on 27 June, 2013, issued me with a certificate of a authority,” he explained.

P.M.NEWS investigations revealed that there is still tension in the market as both parties are not ready to shift ground.

—Cyriacus Izuekwe