Traders protest against removal of leaders

The protesters

The protesters

There was pandemonium yesterday at the popular Alaba International Market, Ojo, Lagos, as factions at the Fancy and Furniture Dealers Association (FFDA) of the market carried placards protesting the ‘unceremonious’ removal of their chairman, Elvis Nwabugwu from office by another group in the association, among other unpleasant happenings in the market.

Nwabugwu, who is the managing director of Ahbu Ventures, was removed for alleged fraud and misappropriation of funds, but his group gave him a clean bill and accused two ‘powerful’ businessmen in the market of fueling the crisis.

The market was grounded as the angry traders who were chanting war songs barricaded the roads leading to and from it. However, the quick intervention of the Area E Commander, FESTAC Police Station, 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, who matched to the Ojo local council secretariat and the Ojo Police Station lamented that both the federal and 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, failure which, his group will resort to ‘self-help’.

According to him, “there is a powerful cabal in the market, led by one man who is not a trader 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 huge money from them before their shops are opened. 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.

“We want the government to intervene and bring back our duly elected chairman and his executive members. He and his executives were voted for a four-year tenure but they had not spent a year in the office before the cabal overthrew them..”

When contacted, the alleged leader of the cabal, one Azubuike, said: “I don’t understand why they are involving me in market politics. I am no more in the market. I left over 10 years ago. I am into another business, so I have no business in Alaba market. They should solve their problems.”

Alaba international market is the largest electronics, electrical and sophisticated furniture and accessories market in West Africa. Apart from the sales of electronic products, the markets also deal in the repair of home appliances.

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