Lagos govt shuts market as seven die in clash

A child declaring his innocence to soldiers and policemen during the clash in Mile 12 Market, Lagos. yesterday PHOTO: ODITA SUNDAY

A child declaring his innocence to soldiers and policemen during the clash in Mile 12 Market, Lagos. yesterday PHOTO: ODITA SUNDAY

Police arrest 50 suspects

To avert a fresh crisis between some Hausa traders and miscreants at the popular Mile 12 market, the Lagos State government has closed it down.

Governor Akinwunmi Ambode disclosed this while briefing reporters at the State House, Ikeja on the foodstuff market and adjourning streets in Kosofe Local Council.
Movement has also been restricted on Oniyanrin Street, Maidan Street, Agiliti I and Agiliti II.

The Commissioner of Police, Fatai Owoseni, said 50 people had been arrested in connection with the clash and would face prosecution in due course. Seven people, including two infants, were feared killed, but the police commissioner confirmed three.

Ambode said some miscreants yesterday morning took advantage of a dispute between Hausa traders and their Yoruba counterparts, a day before, to cause breakdown of law and order, setting houses, religious centres and cars ablaze at the market and the adjourning streets.

He said that though a city like Lagos populated by people from different ethnic groups could not be immune from such clashes, the government would always respond appropriately to contain them. “The public should be assured that we will not shy away from our responsibility to protect lives and properties and deal decisively with those criminal elements who fan the embers of ethnic strife.

“I have been assured by the commissioner of police and other security agencies who are on ground at the scene that the situation has been substantially brought under control.

“In order to further restore peace, I have ordered that the Mile 12 market be temporarily closed. We appeal to all traders, community leaders and other stakeholders to eschew violence, be calm and law-abiding,” Ambode added.

He assured Lagos residents that the state is home to all tribes and ethnic groups and nobody should give the disturbance any ethnic colouration, urging all law-abiding residents to go about their legitimate businesses.

The police boss, Owoseni, said the situation has been brought under control. “The people who were agitating have been cleared off the road. Substantial arrest has been made. We will ensure that everyone involved in the clash is arrested and prosecuted.

“There was no fire in the market. We are still auditing, but I know that we have made substantial arrest, which is well over 50 persons. As at the time I left the scene, there was no fire in the market. But it was within Agiliti where houses were burnt by miscreants. Those miscreants have been cleared off the road,” he said.

The Guardian learnt that the clash was a spillover from an accident that occurred on Tuesday involving an Hausa commercial motorcyclist and a Yoruba woman.

A trader, who gave her name simply as Iya Bode, said that when the commercial motorcyclist knocked down a woman and was told to take the woman to the hospital, he and his colleagues refused. They insisted that the motorbike association, which collects tolls from them, should take care of the woman. This, she said, resulted in heated argument which led to a fight. The fighting continued all through Wednesday till yesterday when some thugs, believed to be of Yoruba origin, invaded the market and started attacking the traders, including the Hausa.

As a result of the attack, violence erupted in the market leading to the burning of several vehicles.
Police vehicles were also destroyed in the fracas, while hoodlums indulged in sporadic shooting. As at 3:40 p.m. yesterday, the police and other security operatives were battling to put the violence under control. Smoke was seen billowing from houses set ablaze.

Terrified by the incident, residents in the area remained indoors for fear of being attacked. The pandemonium has made the Mile 12 area and its environs become a no-go-area for now.

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