The traders under the Igbo Traders Congress while protesting the demolition at the market denied allegations by the Lagos State government that Biafra agitators were holding meetings inside the market.
Speaking on behalf of the traders, Chibuzor Onugha said the demolition was targeted at Igbo traders in the state.
“We are being punished because PDP won in this area, they alleged that the we are holding Biafra meeting its all false, they just want to punish the Igbo’s for political reasons,” Onugha said.
The traders said the state government breached the court Injunction against demolition, saying its heading to court to seek compensation against the 20 billion goods lost to the demolition.
He said the markets accommodated about 5000 traders while the government only provided slots for 600 traders at the new Isopakodowo market.
However the Lagos State Government defended the relocation of traders plying their trade in Owonifari market to the newly built ultra-modern Isopakodowo market in Bolade-Oshodi, saying the action was taken in the overall interest of public good, safety and security.
Speaking during a joint press briefing addressed by the State’s Ministries of Information and Strategy, The Environment, Physical Planning and Urban Development, Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, and the Office of Civic Engagement, the government said it constructed an alternative market stall for the traders which can conveniently accommodate over 600 shops and hundreds of kee clamps, and agreed to subsidize payment by giving shops at the new market at a monthly give away price of N5, 000.
Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Steve Ayorinde said the traders were adequately notified before the exercise took place as required by law, and that government engaged with the leadership of the market severally before carrying out the demolition exercise on Owonifari Market.
While clarifying issues on the demolition which took place on January 5, 2016, Ayorinde said it was important for people to note that the issue of the market had been on for nothing less than ten years, adding that government had been engaging the leadership of the market to make them realize that it could no longer continue in the manner in which the market was being used.
He said unfortunately, the leadership of the market, in the last three years, refused to move despite the fact that the new market has over 600 shops apart from the kee clamps which takes the number of people that the market could conveniently accommodate to over a thousand all together.