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DEMOLITION IN LAGOS: Our source of income has been destroyed, Alaba Rago Market leaders cry out

*Say Tinubu, Shettima, Ganduje begged us to vote, spend for their elections only to now watch as they are turned victims of Sanwo-Olu’s demolition project

*Catapillar came demolishing our quality buildings midnight without prior notice – Secretary 

*They destroyed my goods worth N650m – Gezawa

*As leaders say, ‘We built quality, approved structures not shanties at Alaba Rago’  – Stakeholders

*Why is govt of Lagos, President’s base, creating more poverty amidst already huge hardship – Nigerians react


…people grumbled and asked questiins prominent among which they asked why is government of Lagos State that is suooosed tonbe the base of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu creating more poverty amidst already huge hardship.

Leaders of the Alaba Rago Hausa Community Market in Ojo Local Government Area of Lagos State, South West Nigeria, are still suffering from the effects of pains and agony caused by demolition of their market, the largest food basket centre that has since 1978 served as final destination of sales for food produced in Northern Nigeria.

Alhaji Rabi’u Ahmed Gusau, Secretary of Alaba Rago Market Sectional Heads Committee, Middle, flanked by Alhaji Shuaibu Gezawa, business man, 2nd Right, Alhaji Rabi’u Mohammed, Chairman, Agro-Allied Committee, 3rd Right, and Alhaji Adamu Katagun, a member of the market leadership, 3rd Left, and others during a press conference on demolition of Lagos largest food and animals market, Alaba Rago, on Tuesday May 28, 2024.

They said without notice “whatsoever”, bulldozers accompanied by soldiers and police operatives armed to the teeth invaded the market at midnight and started demolishing all the lockup shops, offices, warehouse and mosques they invested in therein.

Alaba Rago Market levelled ongoing Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s demolition project in Lagos State.

What is more painful, Alhaji Rabi’u Ahmed Gusau, Secretary of the Alaba Rago Market Sectional Heads Committee said, is the fact that “for three days now that agents of the Lagos State government have been at work demolishing the Arewa people’s heavy investments of properties, foods and animals, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has continued to keep silent and watch his officials deprive Arewa people of their source of income at gun point.

Alhaji Shuaibu Gezawa.

“If you destroy the source of income of a people, you have killed them. That is what Governor Sanwo-Olu has done to us, the Nigerian citizens of Northern extractions doing business in Lagos, specifically at Alaba Rago.”

Addressing a press conference on Tuesday May 28, 2024 inside the main mosque at the centre of the yet-to-be demolished Alaba Rago Market portion before the escavator came and began to pull the place down, Alhaji Gusau was asked what went wrong considering that they gave a whole support in terms of votes canvassing, political mobilisation and election campaign financing to APC at presidentialand governorship levels during the last elections.

Responding, he said, “The fact that we supported them with all our votes and money during their election campaign is the reason we wondered what could have gone wrong.

“President Bola Ahmed Tinubu should be told to hear this. He visited us begging for our votes in 2023. The Vice President now, Senator Kashim Shettima, accompanied by then Governor of Kano State and now National Chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC), Alhaji Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, came here in Alaba Rago, Lagos, beginning for our votes.

“We all gave our votes to them and still spent much of our fortunes because we want peace. Our Leader, Sarkin Hausawa and Chairman Arewa Council in Lagos State, Alhaji Idris Yaro, and many other Northern leaders doing business in Lagos State refused to collect money from Tinubu, Shettima a d Sanwo-Olu saying they did not need their monet to work for them. We spent our money to help make Tinubu President and Sanwo-Olu Governor, but today, demolishing our source of income that is Alaba Rago is the way to pay us back. They have killed us,” he bursted into crying.

In his prepared address read at the press cobference on Tuesday, Gusau, who cried profusely over the losses running several billions he and his fellow market stakeholders secured from the demolition he claimed was done without notice, said:

“We convey our gratitude to Almighty Allah for your presence here today as we confront distressing and unfortunate Situation unfolding at Alaba Rago Market.

“In the past 48 hours, a significant portion of the market has been Demolition illegal by the Lagos State Task Force, in collaboration with land spectators and unapproved property developers. This grievous act at this Present Situation of Our Country today is very Inhuman.

“This egregious act, purportedly justified under the guise of removing occupants from shanties and unauthorised structures, has resulted in the widespread destruction of properties and merchandise, amounting to staggering financial losses in Billion of Naira,” he said.

Amidst this profound adversity, according to the Secretary said, “The affected traders have demonstrated admirable composure and resilience, preventing the situation from escalating further.”

He acknowledged the ongoing dialogues between the Lagos State government and relevant authority concerning the market’s condition, understanding a shares commitment to seeking mutually beneficial resolutions.

“While the ambition to transform Alaba Rago Market into a premier commercial hub through a Public Private Partnership model is laudable, the recent actions of the Task Force and Advanced Assiciated Developers starkly contravene established international laws and redevelopment standards.”

The leaders appealed to Governor of Lagos smState, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, to urgently initiate a comprehensive inquiry into the demolition they described as unlawful with a view to holding to account those found culpable and taking decisive measures to safeguard law-abiding citizens against further unwarranted harassment at the Alaba Rago Market.

On whether they were given notice or not and what excuse was given by the state government for the demolition, he said, “There was no notice whatsoever given to inform us that this was coming. On the excuse, we only saw on the Twitter that the demolition was to remove shanties and illegal structures.

“We have no shanties in this Alaba Rago market, neither do we have illegal structures because we were allocated this place by due process and the government collected storage taxes and fees from us on daily bases. Ours are quality buildings that we built as offices, warehouses and lockup shops. Moreover, this is market centre.”

Another major stakeholders and business mogul in the market, Alhaji Shuaibu Gezawa from Kano State, corroborated the Secretary when he said he lost 10,000 bags of rice he brought from Kano, which he was selling at N65,000 per bag price sold in Kano.

Gezawa, who said he came to start doing business at Alaba Rago since he graduated from the university, expressed excruciating pains that asides losing his warehouses and lockup shops to the alleged official yet unlawful demolition,

Displaying documents of approvals a d taxes paid, Alhaji Shuaibu Gezawa, a properties and bisiness owner in the market, made the position of the leaders clear.

“I have been doing business here right from the day of my graduation at the university. Unfortunstely, I want everyone to understand that we, Alaba Rago people, not against development and we have only commenced developing our market. The market was allocated to us in 1978 by tge regime of Obasanjo (during his days as Military Head of State). It is gazetted. I have the newspapers.

“We were relocated from Alaka, where they did the National Stadium, to Alaba Suuru where they now have Eleganza Plaza. We were again relocated from Alaba Suuru to this place (present Alaba Rago). It was like a jungle. Our people resttled here and some of our parents who could not resettlement here went back home.

“We sound filled this place and developed it from slub, jungle to its present state without contribution, whatsoever, from any government. We filled it and made it what it now is, Alaba Rago. We have been doing business legally. We have not constituted threat to any security in Lagos State.

“We have been providing food from Northern Nigeria as far as Adamawa, North East, anywhere in Northern Nigeria, we bring food from.there to this place inLagos State. Unfortunately we are treated like animals.

“We are told they want development but if you look at the place they first targeted (in our market), it’s tge place that was well constructed, we had standard warehouses, we had shops, we had offices.

“Unknowingly and without any notification, suddenly the catapillar came by 6 o’clock (late night of Sunday May 26, 2024), now even presently they are still doing it, they broke into the shops. Our goods were turned to waste, marched, bags of rice, other food commodities, beans, millets that we brought from the North.

“Even myself, I had my goods worth 10 thousand bags of rice at N65,000 (making N650 million) wasted! These were goods I brought from the North and I am selling at the same price of Kano State. They came in the night and matched all those goods. We have been law abiding and good citizens of Nigeria doing business in Lagos State, but we are still being considered and treated like animals because we are non-indigenes,” Gezawa said.

Asked if he thought the plight of Alaba Rago Market was coming from Lagos State indigenes, he said, “No. Those who are doing this to us are people in government of Lagos State.”

He added, “Bola Tinubu, right from the time he was governor of Lagos State, had been friend of this market. He had come to this market severally and we had been cooperating with him. Vice President to President Muhammadu Buhari, Yemi Osinbajo, he came here twice soliciting for our assistance and our votes and we cooperated.

“In this dispensation of Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the present Vice President Kashim Shettima was here, the present Chairman of APC, Ganduje, he was here. He even told us that Tinubu is our man that ‘Bola means Bala, tinubu means Tanimu’ that we should vote him, that he is our man. He told us to put our market in order, that whatever lapses we have in this market, they would be present and they would assist. And we have them 100 percebt votes,” he said.

Asked by double check if Gabduje made that promise, he said, “He made the promise. It was on the television, we have the video, everything is there.”

“But unfortunately, after getting to power, this is what happened to us. This is our situation. You can go down and see the billions (Naira worth) of properties they have destroyed. The warehouses that we had in this Alaba were better than the Ministry of Agric in Lagos State.”

Dismissing the excuse of shanties and illegal structures he saud, “We were allocated this place since it was under Badagry Local Government, it is now olOjo. All our documents are here. We have been law-abiding and paying our dues. We had lockup shops here and they went overnight and destroy everything without consideration of the owners of the properties and the plight of tge citizens on what will become of us tomorrow, without new allocation, no compensation, we have been here over 30 years selling our food and animals here at very cheaper rates but we are treated like animals,” he said.

Saying Alaba Rago was starting place for the oresebt day Governor of Borno State, Alhaji Dangote and others, Gesawa said even those great figures today have neglected the base of their development as they warched all of tge plights being faced by them without any of them intervening on behalf of the Alaba Rago marketers being plubged into this economic quagmire by Lagos state government people.

He then concluded saying, “We are calling well meaning Nigerians, people that care for the welfare of the masses of this country, because nobody cares for us again, to help us. Shettima was here and we were deceived by Shettima. Ganduje was here, they all sought for our assistance, we assisted them and voted for them but this is what they have done to us. We are calling on well meaning Nigerians to intervene. A Yoryba woman died that very day the catapilar came due to shock and some people are still very in the hospital because this demolition,” he exclaimed.

Nigerians react

With ears on the ground in and around the market on Tuesday,  The DEFENDER’s reporter, who attended the press conference held by the Arewa traders, gathered as people grumbled and asked questiins prominent among which they asked why is government of Lagos State that is suooosed tonbe the base of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu creating more poverty amidst already huge hardship.

A particular sympatgeriser said, “Whereas in the North, governments especially of Kano State are encouraging and developing education by affordable school fees and sending hundreds of eligible students on sponsorship to universities in Nigeria and around the world, this same Lagos is increasing school fees making access to education difficult, while they are making life easy for thugs to rule over quality lives in the State.

“What is more painful is that, you collect taxes heavily from these Northerners of Alaba Rago,  I was here when you came begging them for votes. But now, the only way to pay them back is to kill them through destruction of their income.”

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