The Akere Spare Parts market in Ajegunle, Lagos was razed down by a fire that reportedly started at about 3:00am on 8 March. A man identified as Baba Kazeem, who was well known in the market was shot dead after being misidentified by the perpetrators as a security guard. 200 shops were destroyed in the blaze.
Following the presidential election, and just before the incident, Mr Izuchukwu the Chairman of the market traders’s association, received a phone call alerting him to an arson threat by unidentified men. The unknown arsonists were said fuel for burning the market. They fled after because were outnumbered by market security.
Akere Spare Parts market is majorly populated by Igbo traders. While there is yet no hard evidence that the attack is connected to the reports of attempts to suppress Igbo votes in Lagos State, it is noteworthy to point out that Igbo residents in Lagos suffered massive voter suppression such as intimidation, harassment and assault at the polling units, during the election.
MC Oluomo, APC enforcer and head of the Lagos state parks and garages committee, was recorded declaring that Igbos should not be allowed to vote in his polling unit at Fehintola, Giwa Street Aguda, Lagos. during the 25 February elections.
Benjamin Hundeyin, the Lagos State police command’s PRO, retweeted the video of Oluomo, stating
“While the video will be investigated to know if it’s an old, recycled one or not, it should be noted that this is criminal and totally against the Electoral Act, 2022. Violators will be prosecuted.”
So far, the Lagos State’s police response to the repression of Igbos in Lagos State is lacklustre at best, and abetting at worst.
Predictably, Benjamin Hundeyin told the Punch that “investigation is ongoing” with regard to the property destruction and death at Akere market. As tools of the ruling class, the police often utilise this tactic against the masses to discourage protest while circumventing justice.
The proportion of the loss at Akere market requires more than lip service. This is an act against a community of traders who have contributed immensely to society and the economy. They must be compensated for their lost livelihood and assured that similar attacks will be averted.
Governor Sanwo-Olu commenced the reconstruction of Akere Market on Wednesday, 15 March. He also committed the sum of 100 million Naira. And he stated in a tweet that “we will not allow bigotry be what will divide us”.
Despite these fine words, recently, his senior special adviser (SSA) on New Media Jibril Gawat, led a protest against Igbos in Lagos, fuelling the narrative of Igbos taking over Lagos State.
Sanwo-Olu has neither condemned the actions or distanced himself from the political mobilisation of ethnicity tactics of his aides. He has also not addressed the bitter ethnicized attacks directed by members of his team against Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour of the opposition Labour Party and Igbo as Nigerian citizens resident in Lagos.
Sanwo-Olu seems to have become reinvigorated in the service of the people in Lagos at the dying minute of the gubernatorial election. At the height of presidential campaigns, he reportedly opted out of governorship debates, opting instead to accompany Tinubu in his national campaign circuit.
by Iretimide Esther OSUNYIKANMI