Posted by Sunny Okim | 2 March 2019 | 8,265 times
There have been widespread reports about raids carried out on shops owned by non-indigenes in some parts of Lagos State, especially those of Igbo extraction.
The most recent of such raids, News Express gathered, were the ones carried out during the week, purportedly by officials of the Task Force Unit of Ojodu Local Council Area (LCDA) under Ikeja Local Government Council, Lagos State.
It is alleged that the attacks on Igbos are as a result of the February 23 Presidential and National Assembly elections which saw the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) narrowly defeating the major opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in the state.
Victims of the incessant raids are pointing accusing fingers at a former chairman of Ojodu LCDA and APC’s candidate for Ikeja Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives as the sponsor of the raids.
“We are told that he instructed the (Ojodu) Council Task Force to descend on us after the Presidential/NASS elections held last Sunday.
“They say he is claiming that he gave money to Igbos to vote for APC in the elections but the Igbos turned around to vote for PDP,” Mr Jude Ezeh who runs a beer parlour in Ojodu area said when our Correspondent visited his shop, a sit-out popular for cow tail pepper soup, “nkwobi” and goat head delicacies in the area.
Jude, as he is popularly known, an indigene of Anambra State, said he was just coming back from the Council office where he parted with N20,000 before his 30 plastic chairs and tables, forcefully carted away by the Council officials on Monday, were released to him.
“I have been running this business for almost 30 years now, nothing like this has ever happened. They said we Igbos voted for PDP instead of APC, what is my business there? I didn’t collect money from any politician. I have my PVC and I voted according to my conscience. Let them go to whoever collected their money and leave my business alone,” said Jude.
Another sit-out in the area, Charly’s Place, owned by Mr Charles Udeh, also from Anambra State, had about 20 of their plastic chairs taken away by the rampaging Council officials on Tuesday.
Joy, an employee with the outfit also known for cow tail pepper soup and other native delicacies peculiar to the Igbos, told News Express: “They (Task Force) came here on Tuesday at about 6pm. They forcefully took our chairs and tables away and loaded them in their van. They accused us of arranging the chairs on the street for our customers. And that is not true because we only arranged the chairs within the shop space, not outside.
“My boss (Charly) has gone to their office to see how he can get the impounded items released.”
The light-skinned lady corroborated Jude’s narrative when she said: “We heard they are raiding us because they claim Igbos in Lagos voted for PDP instead of APC. But APC won in Lagos State, so I don’t know why they are attacking us. This shop has been here for more than 15 years now, though I came two years ago. All tribes – Yorubas, Igbos, Hausas – and even foreigners come here to enjoy themselves, I don’t know why they are bringing in tribalism just because of elections.”
At Chaka’s Place on the adjoining street, it was the same story. According to Mama Faith who runs her late husband’s business, the same Task Force stormed her shop on Wednesday evening and took away 10 of her plastic chairs. She said they accused her of blocking the street.
Said she: “They came here in their trucks and Task Force uniform. The way they jumped down from their trucks and kicked everything in sight made our customers to scamper for safety. All my pleas as a struggling widow fell on deaf ears. They loaded the chairs and tables in their waiting trucks and sped off.”
Continuing, the Edo State-born mother of three said: “My late husband established this place as a family business. The shop is as old as Ojodu, so I don’t know why all this is happening now.”
Mama Faith disclosed that, as at the time she was narrating her ordeal, her two sons had gone to the Council’s office to negotiate for the release of the seized items.
Shop owners are not the only ones suffering from the raids. News Express reliably gathered that the attacks are also meted out on commercial motorcycle operators in the area, popularly known as okada men.
One of the okada operators, told News Express that though his bike was not impounded, many of his colleagues have had their bikes forcefully taken away by the Council officials.
According to him, to get one’s motorcycle back, one must be ready to cough out the sum of N2,600.
“They (Task Force) would just arrive abruptly. They would ask us to identify our state of origin. If you say you are Igbo, Calabar or Akwa Ibom, they would pounce on your bike and demand that you pay N2,600 instantly,” he lamented.
When contacted, the Divisional Police Officer in charge of Ojodu, Mr Odion Okosuns, a Superintendent of Police, said he was not aware of the raids and so could not be true.
When informed that this reporter had met individually with the various victims whose shops are located at different places and they all complained about the same thing, the newly posted police boss insisted: “I have said that I am not aware. It is not true.”
At Ojodu LCDA office located at Okeira, Ogba, the Council Chairman, Hon. Julius Oloro, was not on seat as at 11:30 a.m. on Friday when News Express visited.
A member of staff in the office of the Council’s Head of Administration/Human Resources by name Mr Mike Agoso, directed our Correspondent to the Public Relations Officer who, incidentally, was also not available to comment on the issue.
But an official in the Revenue Section of the Council who pleaded anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the press said: “I’m just hearing of this (raid on Igbos in the area). Although we do send out a lot of tenement and other rates, we don’t collect cash here, people go to the bank to pay and bring their tellers here. This is a regular occurrence. So I wouldn’t know what payment is for what offence.”
When reminded that most of the payments might not have gone into the Council’s treasury, the official said: “Well, if anybody feels he or she has been made to part with money or property arbitrarily, I’d advise such a person to write to the Council and complain.”
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