We were not informed of the demolition exercise – Traders in Alaba market recount ordeal

The Lagos State government has been accused by traders at the Alaba International market in Ojo Local Government Area of not informing them before demolishing shops at the market last Sunday.


According Daily Sun, the leadership of some sections of the market said they were not informed about the exercise as asserted by the Lagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA).


It would be recalled that the agency had on Sunday, June 18th,2023, stormed the market and demolished over 30 structures claiming they were old structures and the demolition exercise was to avert any building collapse of any sort.


However, traders in the market have cried out saying the demolition exercise was unlawful because they were not pre-informed.


Speaking at the demolition site, the President-General of Alaba Amalgamated Council of Sectional Heads, Hon. Geoffrey Udochukwu Mbonu, denied that the LASBCA gave them prior notice.


He said they only learnt about a proposed demolition plan and came with armed policemen to the market on Friday, June 16th, without seeing the leadership of the market.


Expressing his displeasure about the incident, Mbonu noted that the government took them unawares by carrying out the exercise unexpectedly


He further stated that “We are under a local government, where huge revenue is generated, we pay tax and what the government did was to demolish our buildings alongside, the victims’ wares within the space of two days.”


Narrating how their ordeal started, Mbonu was quoted by The Sun to have disclosed that officials of the LSSBCA  came around on Friday, June 16th,2023, and without any notice or asking for the market leadership, they saw armed policemen on Sunday and the demolishing commenced.


He said the leadership is not against the government doing its work, but it expected some communication and notice of a sort.


Explaining some of the offences for which the affected buildings were demolished, he said structures were erected on waterways, thereby obstructing drainages and causing flooding, especially during the rainy seasons, adding that “Lagos has been a swampy area and Igbo traders have always contributed to the development in the State.”


Mbonu said that each time the officials came they asked for authorization papers and never issued a notice of demolition, adding that  ”The buildings marked close to the canal which have been certified dilapidated and distressed had been marked for years but, they asked for papers each time they came. What about the new buildings that are not close to the canal, that LASBCA has equally destroyed, our secretariat and other new structures?


“Authorization paper implies. If your building is in a very bad condition you will be told to break it. Lagos state is a swampy area, when they came last year, what they asked for was paper.


He emphasized that they said it’s distressed buildings and those blocking the free flow of water through the provided waterways”.What about other buildings that are newly built and it’s brought down? Government need to review the exercise carried out by LASBCA.


” It was about two weeks ago they came with armed policemen to the market, I saw them, they didn’t contact the leadership of the market about demolition. This market is under the Local Government They only spoke about it on Friday, June 16th,2023. They didn’t give traders time to vacate the place. The demolition took place with our goods and documents destroyed.”


Mbonu added that he understands that there is a developer that has discussed with the Local Government and the State to acquire some land in that area, this is why they are demolishing some of the buildings to have enough space to put up the type of building they want erected.


‘‘There are building close to the canal, if that is what they are talking about it would be a different thing. What about structures that are far from the canal? The developer has shifted from the canal to acquire more space for the type of structure he wants to put up.


“This is one of the biggest markets in West Africa that should not be toiled with. Revenue generation in Alaba is enormous. The tiers of government are supposed to carry, Alaba traders along in their decision because they are Nigerians.


“I am the leader of one of the sections demolished by the government. My office is gone, and the secretariat we built recently has been demolished.


“As traders, we were not aware of the imminent demolition of certain structures in the market. We are not against the government but the treatment meted on us without being informed for us to have time to even removed our goods. The market is now porous with the openings. They have exposed our properties, and with the demolition, they didn’t provide any security that would safeguard our properties,” he added.


Also, the President of Alaba International Market Association, electronics section, Chief Camillus Amajuoyi said the demolition took place unexpectedly, with both old and new structures affected by the demolishing exercise.


He explained that “The LASBCA issued a notice on Friday, June 16th, they came with armed policemen, So I made some calls I called Ojo Local Government Chairman to inform him of the development.


“I inquired if he was aware that properties are being destroyed in Alaba. The Ojo LG chairman said he was aware, he stated that the properties that would be destroyed were the ones marked for years.


Amajuoyi stated that they were shocked to see the extent of demolition going on, and when ”I called the LG boss, he said they are demolishing to prevent disasters and to save lives. They don’t want buildings to collapse on anybody.  


 ”There have been rumours that some developers have bought that portion of Alaba, nine years ago.


“I got the information about two weeks ago and with the ongoing demolition, I have called for peace and calm.


“No violence, I spoke to my people to maintain peace and calmness. While we go through the right channels in addressing the situation. Alaba is a collection of 16 sections, no individual can occupy it.


”I have called the Ojo LG chairman, explaining the challenge that these people have gone overboard and he has not visited the site to see what is the situation of things.”

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