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2023:Traders shut down Alaba International Market over PVC

There was fear and apprehension yesterday at the Alaba International market area of Ojo Local Government Area of Lagos as traders besieged the Ojo LGA to get their Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) as instructed by the leadership of the market.

The market was closed down to enable traders to go for their voter cards. The traders, especially from Ojo and its environs, besieged PVC centres, defiling the sun and rain for the voters registration exercise.

During the exercise, a group of boys, who felt that the officials of the LGA were frustrating their efforts, decided to protest but were resisted by the traders who were determined to go ahead with the registration, no matter how long it would take them.

However, some people who took the video clips of the fracas started posting it on social media, spreading rumours of war between Ndigbo and the Hausa community.

A trader, Ugo Ozoemam, said the market lost over N3 billion, but that they were not bothered , provided they succeeded with the registration.

Ozoemenam (alias KB) said: “We were instructed by the leadership of the market to go get our PVCs and we set aside Thursday for the exercise, being the weekly environmental sanitation exercise day in the market. We usually resume by 12 noon.

“We regret the inconveniences to our customers who came from within and outside the country. Most of the hotels at the Ojo, Festac and Mile 2 areas are fully booked by our customers who came from outside the state who are waiting for us to open the market for business on Friday. We really lost billions.

“We are getting reports that not much was achieved today at the different PVC centres. We are still going to raise the issue tomorrow, whether to continue every Thursday, until everyone gets his or her PVC.

“It is a serious issue as we are tired of what is going on in the country, particularly the rise in the dollar. It is really affecting us negatively. We want to call on our brothers and sisters in other market places, such as Trade Fair, Balogun and Mushin to emulate what we are doing, so that we can change the system.”

Another trader, Kolawole Adebola, who deals in cotton, said: “I like what the management of the market is doing. I am a Yoruba in the midst of Ndi-Igbo. We have now discovered that our votes can count, so we want to join hands to change the system.”

One of the security men at the market, Justice Ukachukwu, said they were not in the market to witch-hunt anybody, but were given instructions not to allow anyone to operate.

“The only people we are concerned about are customers who came from within and outside the country. We have recommended good hospitality homes where they can relax,” he said.

However, there was fear and apprehension by the visitors who thought there was more to the closure of the market than met the eyes.

Some of them started peddling rumours that the market was deserted because some gunmen threatened to attack the place.

But, in a swift reaction, the Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), SP Benjamin Hundeyin, debunked the rumours of attack.

Hundeyin, who took to his twitter handle, said: “First, this wasn’t about Igbo. The entire Alaba International market decided to close the market today, to enable the traders register for their PVCs.

“A phased closure could have been better. Consequently, the Ojo Local Government, venue of registration, was besieged by a mammoth crowd. The situation was made worse by the fact that only one registration terminal was working. One of the people who came for registration made trouble and was challenged by those around. Going by the simple probability, the attacker or the attacked is very likely to be Igbo. However, giving this incident ethnic coloration would not help matters. The entire episode lasted a few minutes. Normalcy has since returned. The Divisional Police Officer is fully in charge.”

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