Early morning disturbances in the Abule-Egba part of Lagos was caused by ground rent gone bad in the second biggest food market in in the state.
Ground rent also known as “owo-ile” is the fee paid by traders when they bring in goods for sale. Buyers also pay when they buy a certain quantity in most markets in Africa’s 6th largest economy.
Sources told politicos that trouble started in the early hours of Sunday after trucks of food items landed at Ile-Epo market. The rent seekers who are mostly of Yoruba origin swooped on the traders to collect rent before the goods will be offloaded. The resistance put up by the Hausa traders led to fisticuffs.
The crisis was to escalate after weapons like daggers, machetes, etc were drawn. Each party to the crisis later informed their various groups outside the market, this was what led to serious tension within the areas populated mostly by Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa people.
Police led by the Lagos State Task Force and other police units have since brought the matter under control-leaving residents and road users trapped in heavy traffic for hours. The area has major link roads to Ogun State.
But the Lagos State Police command say it was one Alhaji Adekunle Habib of Ilepo market that reported at Oke Odo Police Station that there was a misunderstanding between one Hausa scavenger and an area boy from Yoruba ethnic group. Spokesman of the command, DSP Bala Elkanah said “the area boy was carrying some goods on his head and was pushed by the Hausa boy in error and the goods fell down. Arguments ensued between the two parties which led to exchange of blows.
“Friends of the two parties joined in solidarity fight and other miscreants took advantage of the moment to steal and loot. They blocked Lagos/Abeokuta express way .What started as a fight between two miscreants almost snowballed into ethnic crises, if not for the timely intervention of the Police. Police teams from Oke Odo Division were the initial responders.
“The Command sent reinforcements from the Operations Department, Rapid Response Squads, Taskforce, Tactical Units and Police Mobile Force. Divisions within the Area Command equally send reinforcements. The situation was brought under control and traffic cleared. No dead recorded but four persons sustained various degrees of injuries and are receiving medical attention. Five suspects namely, Kabiru Mohammed m’, Kabiru Adamu ‘m’, Bashiru Mohammed ‘m, Saliu Madu ‘m’ and Yusuf Amuda ‘m’ were arrested in connection with the breach of peace.”