Lagos’ Alade Market Traders, Developer At War Over Relocation | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Lagos’ Alade Market Traders, Developer At War Over Relocation

Posted: Jul 16, 2016 at 10:58 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

Some traders at the popular Alade market in Allen Avenue, Ikeja, are currently embroiled in a disagreement over attempts by government to relocate the traders to a new site.

The Ikeja local government in 2010 gave the market to a concessionaire, Master Reality International Concepts Ltd, to invest N6.9 billion for a 30-year project on a Build, Own, and Transfer (BOT) basis.

Traders at the market had continued to clash with government officials over the latter’s plans to forcibly move them out of their current location.

On Friday, armed thugs invaded the market to harass the traders, witnesses had told Premium Times.

“We got an invitation letter that we should come to Zone 2 today, and we went to Zone 2,” Lola Odunsi-Dania, a market leader, told Premium Times on Friday.

“There, we spoke with the AIG and he said we should go and make an undertaking that both parties, that is, Master Reality and us should keep peace until Tuesday. That we should all come back on Tuesday.

“We were still there writing that undertaking with their lawyer when we heard that Master Reality brought thugs to the market and started terrorising people again. And as we speak, they said they brought plank and all sorts of things and area boys to be intimidating people there.

“And they said everybody should keep status quo ante but they are not keeping it, until Tuesday when we are all supposed to come to zone 2 for resolution, even though the matter is in court.”

Some of the traders had filed a suit before a Lagos High Court, last year, challenging the government’s plan to relocate them.

“Our clients believe that the said lease of Alade Market to the property developer by the Ikeja Local Government Council, with the aim of abolishing Alade Market and building in its stead a shopping mall or complex, is contrary to public policy,” Jiti Ogunye, who is representing the traders in a civil suit against the Lagos government, said in an open letter to Governor Akinwunmi Ambode on Wednesday.

“The issue of whether our clients could be relocated from the said land is part of the issues being currently litigated at the High Court of Lagos State, Ikeja Judicial Division,” he continued.

“It will, thus, amount to a grave abuse of the rule of law to resort to self-help while the issues are being tried before a competent court of law that is adjudicating the matter.

“The law is well settled that once a civil matter is placed before a court or judicial tribunal for adjudication, parties to the court action must refrain from doing anything capable of overreaching, undermining or foisting a fait accompli on the court.

“Doing so will not only be tantamount to subverting the rule of law, but also will amount to treating the court with contempt. No matter the impatience on the part of parties, they are under a legal obligation to await the outcome of the resolution or determination of the issues submitted to the court for adjudication.”

Premium Times reached Lai Omotola, Master Reality Concept Ltd’s Managing Director, but a personal assistant who took the call said the company would call back with a robust response.

Later, Olisemeka Obi, Special Assistant to the Sole Administrator, Ikeja local government, called to deny that thugs invaded the market.

“They are just trying to create issues for people to think there is something.”

Mr. Obi said a new market had been built for the traders near the current one, and added that they would have the choice of returning once the mall is completed.

“When Alade market was constructed, in the 80’s, it was a little market. More than half of the place we see today were parking lots. Over time, people started acquiring and building their own shops and shanties. For the record, the official shops in that place are 299 shops.

“Over time, illegal shops started springing up.

“Now the local government decided to move the market, because that place is already constituting a nuisance, so instead of allowing this place to deteriorate, they gave this concessionaire the idea to rebuild this Alade market, to build it up as a big shopping mall with parking lots under.

“But instead of chasing people away to start that project, they said let’s build a new market for them. Everyone who has a letter of allocation, who is a bonafide owner of a shop in this current Alade market, they are already getting their shops back, all of them. Once you come with your original letter of allocation or you have a proof that you are a shop owner in the current Alade market, they will give automatically you a letter for this new place.”

Mr. Obi said the traders would pay N150,000 allocation fee for the new shops.

“As I speak to you, out of the 299 people who are original owners, as at the last time we checked, about 263 had come.”

There are 504 lock-up shops and 200 open stalls at the new market, with the shops going for as much as N4 million.

“In that new market, all the land is interlocking stones, there is crèche, two big generators – 350kva and 150kva, borehole,” said Mr. Obi.

“In the current Alade market, they have ten toilets but only two are functional. In the new one, the concessionaire built ten, five each for male and female with water. But the shop owners said it was not enough, that they need another ten.

“As I’m speaking to you now, that ten is already nearing completion. The market is supposed to be opened on Monday. They have praying grounds for Christians and Muslims. There is security.”

Mr. Obi said a group of traders at the market known as Concerned Traders who are not bonafide shop owners are the ones causing trouble at the market.

“These people that are agitating are not up to six,” he said.

“We heard that they went to court. But the court told them to prove their locus standi and give a reason for giving an injunction. That you took a case to court does not mean that action will stop. Court did not say let status quo remain, it said let us look at your case but they did not say stop the movement. Many of them are tenants.

“Since they went to court, almost a year ago now, they’ve not paid a kobo to their landlords. So they just want this thing to continue so they won’t be paying.”(Premium Times)