By Ugochukwu Alaribe & Chimaobi Nwaiwu
ABA—The Youth Wing of the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, has said that the demolition of Oshodi market, Lagos by the Lagos State government was in bad faith and targeted at the Ndigbo doing business in the state.
Ohanaeze Youths insisted that Governor Akinwunmi Ambode deliberately ordered the demolition of the Oshodi market, largely occupied by Ndigbo in the first week of the New Year, when he knew that Igbo shop owners were yet to return from the Christmas and New Year festivities.
In a statement by the National President of Ohanaeze Youth Council, OYC, Mazi Okechukwu Isiguzoro, the group said Ambode by his actions, had drawn a battle line between himself and Ndigbo, whose people suffered huge losses in the demolition exercise.
“It is instructive to observe here that contrary to all principles of common justice, the traders were merely given few days quit notice. It is equally shocking that the government chose such a wrong time for the demolition exercise, thereby not only taking the shops away from them, but also allowing their wares to be looted.
“We are forced to ask: Could this be the starting point in implementing Oba of Lagos’ earlier threat during the election period that Ndigbo would be thrown into the Lagoon? Could it be another round of deportation exercise, similar to what former Governor Babatunde Fashola did in repatriating Ndigbo?
“It is inhumane for people’s livelihood to be taken away from them in such a brazen manner. The government’s claim that arms were recovered from a section of the market does not fly here because it cannot be a reason for such a wicked treatment purely targeted at a particular people.”
The youth group insisted that the Lagos State government’s action was a threat to the unity of the country and demanded adequate compensation for the traders who had suffered great losses in the demolition.
“We demand that the governor of Lagos State should direct relevant government agencies to adequately compensate these traders as anything short of that, Ndigbo will henceforth, consider Ambode, as their arch-enemy number one.”
Similarly, a former President General of Onitsha Markets Amalgamated Traders Association, OMATA, Chief Ozoh Anakwe blamed the Lagos State governor for the loss the traders suffered following the demolition of the market.
He said: “The destruction of the goods belonging to Oshodi traders, who are mostly Igbo was another way of chasing the Igbo into the Lagoon, like one of their Oba’s threatened during the electioneering campaign for this same governor that carried this inhuman and wicked act against traders
“The Lagos State governor was on vendetta mission with the demolition of the market. He does not like Igbo people, he feels they did not vote for him and if you check the local government area the market is located, you will find out that All Progressives Congress, APC, lost there during the governorship and presidential elections, so the demolition did not come as a surprise to us.”
He urged the traders to pay the governor back with their votes when he will come out for re-election for second tenure, saying, “ou know that the politicians are greedy, they will not avoid running for second tenure, they will always stand for re-election and that is the time they should pay him in his own coin for what he did to them.”
He said going to court may not favour the traders because the politicians have their ways in manipulating the courts to favour them, but it was good for them to drag the Lagos State governor and government to court for wilful damage to their goods, at least for it to be on record.
“We know APC government does not obey court orders, they do not care about due process of the law, they are not moved by protest, and therefore, the best option is to use their votes to chase the governor out of seat when he comes out for re-election.”