By Josephine Odum-John
In what they termed peaceful protest, at the Popular Alaba International Market, Ojo Lagos, on Wednesday, a faction in the Fancy and Furniture Dealers Association (FFDA), Alaba international Market took to streets with placards in protest of the ‘unceremonious’ removal of their chairman, Elvis Nwabugwu.
Another group in the association removed Nwabugwu from office. They also protested over what they said were other unholy happenings in the Market.
Nwabugwu who is the Managing Director of Ahbu Ventures was removed alleged fraud and misappropriation of funds, but the group backing him gave him a clean bill and accused two ‘powerful’ businessmen in the market of fueling crisis in market.
The market was grounded as the angry traders who were chanting war songs barricaded the roads leading to and from it and even extended their protest to police division, which has jurisdiction over them.
The quick intervention of the Area E Commander, FESTAC command, and his Officers saved the protest from being hijacked by hoodlums.
There was traffic gridlock in the area, as those who came for business transaction ran for safety while others who could not run took refuge in some shops.
The Placard carrying traders marched to the Ojo Local Government Secretariat and the Ojo Police Station lamenting that both the Federal and the state governments have been insensitive to the ‘evil’ happenings in the Market.
Speaking to newsmen after the protest, former Caretaker Committee chairman of the market, Chief Maduka Arubaluezeama urged the Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase and the Governor of Lagos, Akinwunmi Ambode to intervene quickly saying that if nothing is urgently done by law enforcement officers, his group may resort to ‘self-help’.
“We have reported to the Police and the Directorate Of State Security Service (DSS) about the happenings in the Market but nothing has been done to correct the injustices in the Market. We petitioned and visited the two security agencies, but the problems are still there.
“There is a Powerful Cabal in the Market, led by one man who is not a trader in this market but own plazas here. The man has been a torn in the flesh of FFDA. He removed a constitutionally elected executive of the Association and installed a Leader who he has been using to perpetrate evil in the Market.
“The cabal and their thugs lock up people’s Shops at will and collect big money from them before their shops are opened. This was what the ousted democratically elected executive members, led by Elvis Nwabugwu (aka Ahbu Ventures) refused to do and his executives were sacked by a group of thugs led by the Power cabals in the marked.
“We want the government to intervene and bring back our duly elected Chairman and his executive members who we elected to lead us. He and his executives were voted for a four-year tenure but they had not reached one year in the office, before the Cabal overthrew them.
“There are other terrible things happening in FFDA. We have illegal detention cell where the perceived enemies and opponents of the cabals are locked up. The leadership of the Police in FESTAC had compromised severally, until the coming of the present Commander who have refused to compromise and has been doing his best. But, there is little the man can do as the cabals have penetrated the high and mighty in the society. Until Governor Ambode, the Inspector General Of Police, Mr. Solomon Arase, Director General of DSS, President Mahammadu Buhari and prominent Nigerians intervene, center cannot hold in the International Market.
“We are appealing passionately for peace as we are law abiding citizens, but we want to warn that we all may be sitting on keg of gun powder ready to explode, if the government refuse to intervene, as no one has monopoly of violence. They are using thugs to beat us up in the presence of security agencies.
“We have the means to acquire our own thugs or resort to self help, but this would be our last option if the government fail to act”
The placards had inscriptions such as “No to intimidation, no to Thuggery, no to impunity, no to cabals, bring back our duly elected executive led by Elvis Nwabugwu or there will be no peace”
As at the time of filling this report, Policemen from the Area E Command led by the Area Commander were on the ground monitoring the protesters.
A Police Officer who spoke on the condition of anonymity said no life was lost during the protest and nobody was injured.
“The protesters wrote to the Police for protection and that is why you see us monitoring the Protesters otherwise, it would have been hijacked by hoodlums.
When contacted, the alleged leader of the cabal, said: “I don’t understand why they are involving me in market Politics. I am no more in the Market. I have left the Market for over 10 years. I no longer come to Market. I am in another business, so I have no business in Alaba market. They should solve their problems and don’t join me in their dirty politics”
Peace had developed wings and fled the popular Alaba International Market for about one year now over leadership tussle between two powerful factions in a section of the market.
Trouble was said to have started a year ago when a group believed to be the cabals in the market, and leadership position transferred to his former deputy, Arubalezeama who in turn was overthrown again by another group loyal to some group in the market, overthrew Nwabugwu.
The decision to overthrow Nwabugwu did not go down well with his supporters who have decided to push for justice and regain their mandate.
According to a trader in the market, “it has been like this for over some time now. Peace has departed the market over the lingering leadership crisis. Thank God for the kind of Area Commander we have now, he is working on the side of truth and we are really thankful to the Commissioner of police for granting us the permission to carry out this peaceful protest.”
Alaba international market is an electronics market located in Ojo, Lagos State, Nigeria. It is the largest electronics, Electrical and sophisticated Furniture and Accessories market in sub-Saharan Africa.
Apart from the sales of electronic products, the markets also deal in the repair of home appliances.
The market and its wide range of business activities gives opportunities to electronics and electrical engineers who specialized in the repair of faulty home appliances to transact businesses with dealers in electronics.
The daily business transactions and popularity has attracted new investors and electronics dealers across Africa thereby expanding the market size and population with significant effects on the economy of Lagos State.