Gridlock in Lagos as Oyingbo traders protest closure of shops, alleged extortion

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By Bose Adelaja

Many road users in Lagos Mainland on Wednesday, experienced traffic gridlock which lasted for hours following a peaceful protest staged by traders of the popular Oyingbo Ultra Modern Market, Ebute Metta, Lagos State.

They were protesting two weeks closure of the market by market authorities in the state.

The market which has been in existence for decades was shut down about two weeks ago over non compliance with environmental rules.

It is one of the oldest markets in Lagos which was transformed into an ultra modern market by former Governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Fashola.

Many road users were stranded for hours as Oyingbo and its environ were shut down by the traders’ protest.

Traffic gridlock stretched from Lagos Mainland to Idumota, Iddo, Idumagbo, Yaba,  Ijora and Otto to mention but a few as many road users were denied access to various locations. 

Many passengers disembarked from various vehicles and resorted to trekking.

The protests which started in the morning lasted till about 1.30pm with the traders carrying various placards. 

The protesting traders took to the streets and major roads in procession, carrying placards with different inscriptions that read, “we want our market, Mainland Local Government, hear our cry.”

Some of them who spoke with Vanguard said the market was shut under the instruction of the Iyaloja General of Nigeria, Folashade Tinubu-Ojo who allegedly demanded the sum of N5m before reopening.

She was said to have locked the gate to the plaza following complaints of traders displaying wares in an untidy environment.

Some of the placard read, “we  have children and we have house rent to settle. We refuse to be miscreants.”

The protesters were later addressed by a representative of Lagos Mainland Local Government, Jubril Emilagba who said  their grievances will be looked into.

A protester, Bisi Moboluwaji said she lost perishable items worth Millions of Naira within the two weeks. She said, “I travelled to the village when I heard that the market was locked and was unable to salvage my wears. I deal on perishable items which have all perished within the closure period, ” she said. 

Some of the traders alleged that they forcefully entered the premises on Tuesday night only to discover that most of their wares items have perushed. 

While the protest lasted, a team of Policemen from Denton led by the Divisional Police Officer was on ground.

We lost N16m worth of goods- Market leader

Speaking with Vanguard, Mr Victor Ochukwuogo, Chairman,  Oyingbo  Foodstuff Market Association said in his accessment, over N16 million Naira worth of goods were wasted within the two weeks of closure. “We usually fumigate the market because of pests but with the closure, pests have invaded the shops while hoodlums have been invading the market. In all, about N16 million Naira worth of goods were lost to the closure,”

Why we closed Oyingbo Market for two weeks- Iyaloja – General

In a telephone conversation with Vanguard, the Iyaloja -Geberal, Mrs Folasade Tinubu Ojo said the market was shut over non compliance with environmental laws.

She said before the closure, series of assessment were done and efforts to get the traders to neat up their environment were unsuccessful. She said, ” the market was untidy as refuse is dump indiscriminately, most of the shops have cob webs hanging on them and this may lead to  outbreak of airborne diseases in the area. I have visited the market and sent representatives to the traders to neat up their environment but nothing was done,” she said 

On the N5 million Naira allegation, she said she has never requested for gratification from the traders but all her concern was a cleaner environment. “That market used to be a reference point and the government invested huge sum of money to transform it but the present state of the market is in a sorry state,”

Traders pulled down market gates in protest 

The Iyaloja-General said despite the closure, at about 6pm of Wednesday the angry traders have pulled down the  market gates . “They are less concerned with general cleanliness of the market but all they want is to install a market leader (Iyaloja),”