Traders at the Alakija Market, Lagos State have narrated how some workers of the Neighbourhood Watch, attached to the Amuwo Odofin Local Government Area, attacked them with dangerous weapons.
It will be recalled that last week, some traders were attacked by the Neighbourhood Watch members, who under the instruction of the Chairman of the council, Ayodele Adewale, wanted to dislodge them from their trading zones.
It was alleged that Adewale ordered the demolition of some shops, which were said to be illegal and the Neighbourhood Watch was directed to carry out the exercise and ensure the demolition of the shops.
As the demolition was going on, some of the traders attempted to salvage what was left of their wares, leading to a free for all.
The situation snowballed after some street urchins, who thought Neighbourhood Watch men wanted to cart away their Lotto box (Baba Ijebu), jumped into the fray and attacked the officials.
The clash led to shooting, with four persons allegedly shot dead and many injured.
In the aftermath of the conflict, some of the wounded traders had besieged the office of the Lagos State Police spokesperson, Ngozi Braide, at GRA, Ikeja, demanding for justice and for investigation into their attack and subsequent impounding of their wares.
The traders also complained that their goods, valued at thousands of naira, were destroyed and some carted away by the council officials.
One of the traders, Ola Adebare, recounted: “On Tuesday, I was in the market, attending a customer when the men of the Neighbourhood Watch came. They were shouting: kill them and destroy their goods! When I heard the council Neighbourhood Watch shouting, kill them and destroy their goods, I ran and started snatching whatever of my goods my hands could touch. When I was making efforts to escape with some of my goods, one of them pounced on me and beat me. In the process, I sustained an injury on my mouth. The government of Lagos State should come to our aid in the market!”
Another trader, who identified himself as Mohammed, said: “When the local government officials and the Neighbourhood Watch stormed the market, they were telling their colleagues who were in the market, ahead of them, to kill us and destroy our goods. While I was trying to stop them from taking my goods, one of them came from behind and hit me with a baton on my left hand side.
“As I speak with you now, I don’t have anything that would sustain me and I cannot go into stealing. I don’t know why the council officials and the chairman who oversees the council is doing this to us.”
A woman, Confidence Bartholomew, narrated: “I have been in that market for some time. Why they are treating us in the market as if we are not Nigerians is what I don’t and can’t understand! I have a kiosk in the market where I operate betting game. When they stormed into the market that day, the council officials took away my machine and about N200,000 proceeds I made from the sales of the day. Now the machine and the money had been taken away, I don’t know where to start from.”
A furniture maker, Morufu Balogun, recalled his ordeal: “Some of my skeletal chairs were broken and I was also beaten by three hefty men who accompanied the council officials. I want the Lagos State Government and other security agencies to call the council boys and their boss to order.”
Glory Smart, who deals in children readymade wares, said she had just re-stocked her shop when the council officials and the Neighbourhood Watch invaded the market and carted away some of the new stock.
Lamenting, Smart said: “Tell me, where do I start from? Whom do I go to for money to start? Even the money I’m using for the business was a loan I got from a micro finance bank. How do I pay the money back?”