There was pandemonium at the Jakande market, Ketu Lagos, Friday afternoon as many traders scampered to salvage their goods while others counted their losses due to the demolition of shops.
The demolition which started around 9:30 a.m. on Friday led to the traders being chased out of their shops by armed officers.
According to a trader who asked not to be named, police officers from the Rapid Response Squad escorted the team of developers who came to demolish the shops in the early hours of Friday.
“At first, they told everybody to go out and those that can pack their goods should do so,” Rashida Abass, another trader said.
She told PREMIUM TIMES that the Divisional Police Officer of the Ketu Police Station came to the market last week Thursday with a team of developers and announced that they plan to develop the market.
“We were not given any prior notice, people in the market stood against it, the youths also stood against it.”
“On Wednesday (this week), they told us the matter has been resolved only for us to see them today telling all of us to go out.”
Mrs Abass said the traders did not yield to the instructions because they were all shocked. Then the bulldozer started demolishing the shops, she said.
Many of the traders who tried to protest had to run away as the police fired gunshots into the air, PREMIUM TIMES learnt.
When this reporter got to the scene around 11 a.m., the popular market had become a shadow of itself as traders and consumers were running helter-skelter seeking refuge.
Although some of the traders said soldiers were involved in the shooting, this reporter only saw armed police officers.
The evacuation of traders turned violent as it was hijacked by hoodlums who took to the highway vandalising vehicles, restricting movement.
Gunshots were fired sporadically and the traders alleged that one person was killed and others injured.
The death could not be confirmed.
However, a PREMIUM TIMES reporter witnessed as a person hit on the face by a stray bullet was rushed to the hospital around 11:30 a.m.
Amidst the violence, more police officers arrived at the scene and dispersed the thugs.
When PREMIUM TIMES took a tour around the market after the violence subsided, many traders were seen moving out their goods hastily, including refrigerators, food items, fruits and others.
Other traders whose goods had been destroyed in the demolition were seen wailing, counting their losses. Some were seen trying to recover some goods under the rubble.
Amidst the pandemonium, some traders whose shops were not demolished continued their business while some hoodlums looted some of the demolished shops.
Markets are officially under the jurisdiction of local governments, however, state governments often determine what happens in the markets.
Such a demolition as carried out at the Jakande market could not have been done without the support or prompting of the Lagos State Government. The government, as at press time, was yet to state the reasons for the demolition and whether or not the treatment of the traders was fair.