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Published On: Thu, Feb 14th, 2013

Lagos Traders Protest against Extortion, Threat of Closure of Market

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Spokesman of the protesting traders Mr Albert EZENWA addressing newsmen

By Oghenekevwe Laba
Traders of Suru-Alaba market located along Lagos- Badagry Express Way yesterday stormed Alausa, Lagos State seat of power to protest against what they described as continuous extortion including threat to close and re-construction of the market.
The traders made up mostly of women who came in their hundreds arrived at Alausa in six Coaster buses chanting solidarity songs and calling on the Lagos State government to rescue them from continuous extortion by their market leaders who are feeding fat on them through collection of one illegal levy or the other.
The traders are also demanding that Lagos State Authority should clarify the issue making the rounds that the market had been earmarked for reconstruction when in actual fact they have already concluded plans to fence the market as it is being done in other markets along the expressway.

They said the market leaders otherwise known as members of Suru-Alaba Market Committee are not taking the traders union head along in the course of entering meeting and making decision as stipulated in their constitution.
Speaking to newsmen, Spokesman of the traders, Mr Albert Ezenwa accused the market leaders otherwise known as members of Suru-Alaba Market Committee for not adhering to the rules which stipulated that all head of union members of the market are automatic members of Suru-Alaba Market Committee and should be part of any meeting process.
“Since after their appointment as new leaders of the market committee last year, they have not allowed the union heads to be part of the meeting. They enter meetings in secret and refuse to take us along on important decisions that affect we the traders. The irony of it is that sixty percent of these leaders are not traders. They just come to the market sit under a canopy throughout the day,” Albert who is the head of punk sellers in the market complained.
He said last year the leaders task the fifty six union in the market N10,000 each which amount to total of N560,000 to be use to purchase New Year gift for government officials they did not know. He added that their refusal to pay the money because it on a high side led to the leaders inviting officials of Kick Against Indisci0line (KAI) to close the market for a whole one week on a frame environment hazard.
“Many of us, mostly those selling perishable goods lost thousands of Naira as our goods got spoilt in the process. Beside, millions of Naira was lost for forcing us to stay out of our business place for a whole week. While they were insisting we must still pay N10, 000 illegal levies for New Year gift, they later came up with another obnoxious demand that we should come and pay them N2.5m they paid to KAI for re-opening the market.
“But on our investigation at KAI office, Layeni, Ajegunle, an officer who did not want his name on print informed us that they collected only N500,000 from the leaders. Despite our appeal to them to reduce the amount so that we can afford it the leaders refused and threaten to close the market finally if we refused to pay both N10, 000 per union New Year gift due and the N2.5m for re-opening the market after the closer,” Albert explained, adding that as they were deliberating on the issue, the leaders came with the idea of re- constructing market. They said they have concluded plans with the Chairman of Amukoko Council Area to destroy and re-construct the market
Albert argued that there were never time they discuss about re-construction of the market, stressing that the plan they arrive at was to fence round the market as it is being done in Orile market which is on the same expressway with Alaba Suru market.
“ We are here particularly with the news making the round about the reconstruction of the market because we do not want to be caught unaware. We want to hear from the horse mouth which is Lagos State government,” Albert hinted.
Meanwhile, some of the traders who spoke to our correspondent are afraid that the idea to reconstruct the market is the handiwork of the market leaders who want them to deprive them of their shops, hence it would be sold to their favourites who would later come up with obnoxious prices which they could not afford.

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