One feared dead at renewed hostilities in the evening
ALL hell broke loose yesterday morning at the Ladipo auto spare-parts market, as land grabbers, popularly called Ajagungbales, who were dangerously armed to the teeth, descended on the popular market at Toyota Bus Stop, on Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, Lagos State, to forcefully reclaim ownership of the area known as Odo Aladura community.
Arriving at about 11.00a.m., they ordered the traders to close shops and leave the market immediately. Many of the traders were just arriving and those present at the time were engaged in the weekly sanitation exercise, while others gathered in groups for prayer sessions.
From the blues, the hired hoodlums swooped on the market and demanded that traders should quit their shops as they had come to demolish the market and take possession of the land.
However, as the thugs were about to carry out their threat, they surprisingly met a stiff resistance from the traders, who refused to vacate their shops. This led to a pandemonium of sorts as bottles and dangerous objects began flying in the air, with traders brandishing machetes and dangerous weapons in self-defense to face the land grabbers.
It soon became a free-for-all. The ensuing fracas left several people wounded and a bloody scene was averted with the quick intervention of OP MESA soldiers, who stormed the market in six vans to restore peace and order. The soldiers engaged both parties in a long discussion after frayed nerves were calmed and at the end, the traders were told to go back to their shops.
Information from a reliable source said the hoodlums were led to the market by the son of the owner of the land – the Owoyemi family, where the spare-parts shops were built on.
According to him: “His father sold the land in the area including the site occupied by OK Biscuits but abandoned the rest of the land because it was swampy and close to the canal.
Later, the white garment people came to the place and commenced with their prayers.
“Gradually, they started sand-filling the swampy area. They later began to build on the reclaimed land with no one coming at the time to challenge them, until the family took the case to court, a matter that had dragged on for many years.”
Another trader, Emeka Nwankwo, who lamented the show of force used by the land grabbers, said: “Now that the son of the owner has realized that the swampy area has been turned around, he wants to claim ownership by force.
“Even if he is rightfully entitled to the land, there are civil ways of going about it. We are not in a banana republic. This barbaric way of forcefully taking a land that you think you have the right to is primitive and unconstitutional, in a country where there is law and order,” he said.
Efforts to get the leader of the market traders, who stood his ground against the invaders, proved abortive as he repeatedly told The Guardian he was not in the right mood to talk.
One of the protesters, who resides in the area said: “The instigator of the crisis is Monday Lawrence (the man in charge of the cemetery in Ladipo). He boasts of enjoying the cooperation of the state government, which is why he is threatening to chase us out of this place by all means. Our parents have been here since 1950 even before the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway was constructed.”
Meanwhile, one person was feared dead at a renewed hostility at about 4.00p.m.