Market executives at the Oyingbo market in Lagos have shed light on the reasons their market was shut down for two weeks by the President-General, Association of Commodity Market Women and Men of Nigeria, Folashade Tinubu-Ojo.
The Oyingbo market is popular for foodstuffs in Lagos and beyond.
Following the closure of the market for two weeks, the traders on Wednesday took to the streets to protest the alleged injustice.
They carried placards with inscriptions such as ‘Bola Ahmed, please save us from your daughter,’ Lagos Mainland, our children are crying of hunger, pls save us from the hand of Shade Ojo,’ ‘Folashade Tinubu Ojo, Ahmed Tinubu’s daughter leave Oyingbo Market alone. Mainland Local Government, hear our cry.’
Mrs Tinubu-Ojo is the daughter of Bola Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos and national leader of the All Progressives Congress. She was installed as the Iyaloja-General (head of market men and women) in 2013 after the death of her grandmother, Abibat Mogaji.
The traders accused Mrs Tinunu-Ojo of requesting N5 million from the traders operating in the market without any prior notice.
The aggrieved traders who displayed the decayed foods on the floor said the closure of the market has affected their businesses and source of livelihood.
The secretary of the market committee, Lateef Lasisi, told PREMIUM TIMES that about two weeks ago, Mrs Tinubu-Ojo visited the market and complained about the environmental state.
“She started entering the kee klamps when she saw those things she complained but we now explained to her that we the executive of this market, we just got the MOU from the local government (Mainland), it was the local government that was handling the affairs of the cleaning, security and other things in the market,” he said.
“But we the executive, it is our job constitutionally to run the day to day activities of the market, but the council has taken over the responsibility and we have folded out arms. That has been in existence since about two years ago. We did not do anything.
Mr Lasisi said before Mrs Tinubu-Ojo’s visit, they had met with the chairman of the local government concerning the sanitation of the market.
He said the government handed over the sanitation, security, electricity affairs, waste management amongst others to the market committee about four weeks ago.
He added that they were still in negotiation with the sanitation corps about the fee before Mrs Tinubu-Ojo’s visit.
He said during her visit after she had complained of the environmental situation of the market, they explained to her that they were making moves to resolve the issue.
“But she said tomorrow, she would come to lock-up this place, that everybody should pack their goods. We thought she was playing, the second day, she started sending everybody out, even the Fidelity Bank and others there, she gave them 20 minutes to pack out,” he said.
Mr Lasisi said that some of the market officials went to Ikeja to plead with her but she insisted that they were going to pay a fine of N5 million for the reopening of their market.
“I left there almost past 9 p.m. when we have been there since 4 p.m.,” he said.
He said after the meeting, they told the traders about the N5 million fine but they asked ” what is our offence? The local government that is collecting revenue here is supposed to clean up the place.”
Also, the deputy leader of the market, Olateju Muhammed, said Mrs Tinubu-Ojo did not give room for an explanation before she ordered that the market be shut down.
Mr Lasisi said after the protest, some traders opened the market and brought out rotten food items.
She said that many of the traders lost their goods and couldn’t make ends meet for their families.
“All of us in this market got a loan from LAPO (a microfinance bank) to sustain our businesses, and we pay with interest. How do we pay the loans?”
Mrs Tinubu-Ojo, on Thursday, said the market was shut down due to its deplorable state.
Speaking at a media briefing in Lagos, she denied the claim that she sought the payment of N5 million over the issue.
“The Mainland Local Government Chairman, Hon. Omolola Essien had earlier called me to close down the Oyingbo market because it was extremely dirty.
“Also, the Ministry of Environment had initially done so earlier in the year for some reason before it was reopened.
“The Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, had also visited the market and thereafter, sent a letter to that effect. The traders were then given time to do the needful,” she said.
Mrs Tinubu-Ojo said the market, which was constructed less than 10 years ago, was now in bad shape.
“I visited the market on Thursday last week and instructed them not to open the market the next day and that they should also move their goods out of the market, with a promise that I will be there on Friday to ensure proper sanitation.
“I was there as said, on Friday and ordered the traders to pack their stuff out of the market while it was properly cleaned on Friday and Saturday.
“I sent delegates to check on Tuesday if thorough sanitation had been done as instructed,” she said.
Mrs Tinubu-Ojo said the traders were given 24 hours’ notice, adding that the Ministry of Environment had earlier shut the market without prior notice, for months.
“We can’t continue to celebrate dirt. I stood at the gate and asked them to move their perishables before it was closed.
“There is no market head for Oyingbo market currently, as none of the two contenders vying for the post was on ground during the whole process.
“The officials from LASURA (Lagos State Urban Renewal Agency) had earlier visited the market without informing me and then called my attention again to the terrible state of the market.
“I had to put a call to one of the officials who also confirmed the state of the market and said the agency had videos and pictures of the market,” she said.
Mrs Tinubu-Ojo, however, appealed to the traders to ensure proper sanitation as it is being preached weekly.
She urged traders to always keep their environment clean.
This newspaper observed that the market has been reopened and there are three police vans with one task force bus at the market entrance.
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