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MILITARY SHOOTING: Chairman Ladipo Market Traders Narrates Ordeals (See press conference video)

By Mezie Akabudu

The Chairman of Aguiyi Ironsi International Market, Ladipo, Mushin Local Government Area, Lagos State, Chief Felix Mbamalu, in a press conference on Wednesday, July 14, 2021, gave an account of the business altercations between some personnel of the Nigeria Air force and some traders at the aforementioned popular market.

Recall that no fewer than two persons were allegedly shot dead while others were reportedly wounded by some personnel of the Nigeria Airforce after a brief disagreement between the soldiers and traders at the popular Ladipo market on Tuesday, July 13, 2021.

Narrating, the Chairman of Aguiyi Ironsi section of the market, Chief Felix Mbamalu, said that when he got information of the shooting in Aguiyi Ironsi, he rushed down to the market and that by the time he got to the market he noticed that the air force operatives have left.

He noted that while he was addressing the traders, he recieved a call that the Air Force men have been apprehended at Toyota bust stop along Oshodi-Apapa expressway by soldiers from the Armed Forces Resettlement Center Oshodi, adding that himself and the President-General of Ladipo Market Traders rushed down to the bus stop only to notice that the air force personnel arrested and detained two other traders.

According to him, he insisted that those two traders be released and that when he tried to engage the leader of the squad, he was told that the traders must have provoked the soldiers that led to the shooting.

Chief Felix stated that while at the bus stop a call came from the Air Force Base in Ikeja, stating that the commandant would like to meet with the market leadership.

Based on his narrative, the commandant told them that his boys (Airforce operatives) were trained officers. The commandant stressed that maybe the traders attacked them first, boasting that they are permitted to kill rather than lose their guns.

Mr. Chairman said he convened the conference to narrate the true side of the story to the world, promising to fight until justice is met.

A pressman sought for clarification on the root cause of fracas, stating that the information he got was that what escalated the matter was gate fee.

The Chairman had responded that in the whole of Ladipo market, they do not collect gate or parking fees from any member of the armed forces or the police.

At this point he invited an eyewitness, Mr Ajuluchukwu Ezeanya, to narrate what happened.

Ajuluchukwu said, he was in the office of the Public Complainant Committee (PCC) chairman when a young man wearing a white short and  long sleeve shirt came into the office with another young man with a bag on his back, by then the PCC chairman was addressing the case of a soldier who came to make complain, the chairman told the young man to please hold on let him finish with the case he has at hand, the young man started shouting at the chairman, “do you know who I am, I am talking to you and you are asking me to hold on, you bloody civilian.

The chairman then asked him to leave his office.

As he was going out, Ajuluchukwu continued, one of us by name Solomon approached him and asked what was the matter, he told him that the father of the young man he came with sent him to come and help him retrieve a kick starter from a trader in the market.

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He added that within a space of 10mins, military pickup vans with inscription, “OP MESA”, arrived the market, air force officers humped down from the vans and started beating people indiscriminately. He noted at this point, the traders blocked their vans with tyre rims and benches and started throwing bottles, stones and sachet water at them.

According to him, the first soldier shot into the air to scare the traders, “one young fulani guy wearing red short and white shirt knelt down and started aiming directly at people. I can identify all the soldiers that shot directly at the people because I was their begging them to stop shooting”.

Continuing, he added that, “3 people are still in intensive care unit of Lagos State University teaching hospital Ikeja, two persons have been confirmed dead”.

Meanwhile, the President-General Ladipo Auto parts market, Chief Jude Nwankwo, had said that the union may reconsider selling items to any military person, noting that because of a kickstarter worth of N3, 500 (three thousand five hundred naira) lives have been lost.

He said the entire market is shot down for the whole of Wednesday in honour of their fallen colleagues. He emphasized that they normally give one week warranty for any item bought from the market, stressing that there is a difference between warranty and guarantee. He said, it is important to note here that the kick stater in question was bought about six months ago. He stated that Ladipo market has about 46 units and is the biggest auto parts market in west Africa.

“We don’t give guarantee because we are not the producers of these items, we incur a lot of losses on our part because where we buy these items, we don’t have the opportunity to ascertain if the items are working or not”, he lamented.

The chairman said they have steps at resolving traders customer dispute, stating that, whenever a customer has a complain about his dealings with any trader in the market, he is often advised to take the matter to the PCC chairman, if  either the customer or the trader is not satisfied, there is an appeal panel to further look into the matter before it can be brought to my desk.

The lawyer of Ladipo market traders union, Barr. Obiora Ume, said the level of intimidation and harassment in the market by the military men have been unprecedented.

He recalled how two years ago, two military operatives who came to the market to request for a replacement for an engine he bought about 8 months ago, after that incident, the union put up a big signboard as a public notice stating that any fairly used item bought in the market is without a guaranty. He promised to petition all the relevant authorities to demand for justice for the dead and injured.

As at the time of writing this report every effort to get the airforce version of what transpired on that fateful Tuesday has proved abortive.

See press conference video

https://youtu.be/FMbx7yBwOV0

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