Traders at the Alaba Rago market have dragged the Lagos State Government and Inspector General of Police (IGP) before a Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi over the quit notice issued to them and demanded N50 million compensation for allegedly tagging them as Hausa/Fulani.
The traders, in the case with suit Non. FHC/C/CS/956/22, said that of all the ethnic groups that occupied the Alaba International Market, the Lagos state government through its agencies singled out those of Northern extractions for eviction from the market.
They argued that the 14-day quit notice issued by the government was basically to deprive them of their fundamental human rights and access to means of livelihood in the state.
According to them, the quit notice is discriminatory and a breach of the Applicant’s fundamental right as guaranteed by Section 42 of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
In the document obtained by The Guild on Wednesday, four traders, HusaiiI Lajawa, Hamisu Mansur, Muhammed Aminu and a cleric, J.T. Assan, were listed as applicants while the Commander, Lagos Rapid Response Squad (RRS), and Lagos State Environmental and Special Offences Unit (Task Force) were among the respondents.
Among the reliefs which the applicants were seeking before the court include a declaration that the removal notice pasted only on the applicants at the market, who were Nigerian of the Hausa/Fulani extraction, on the basis of their tribe while none was served on the Igbo and Yoruba who occupies Alaba International Market and Tanzan Market respectfully was discriminatory.
“A declaration that the removal notice pasted on the applicant’s properties at Alaba Rago Market without following due process is unlawful and a breach of the Applicant’s right to properties as guaranteed by Section 43 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended.
“A declaration that the removal notice pasted on the applicants’ property at the market who are Nigeria of the Hausa/Fulani extraction without any justifiable reason and thereby denying the Applicants of their means of livelihood and in breach of the Applicants Fundamental Right to life as provided and guaranteed under Section 33 of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
“An Order of Injunction restraining the respondents from removing the applicants from their market at Alaba Rago Market, Ojo Local Government Area of Lagos State without any alternative.
“An Order of injunction restraining the respondent from demolishing the Alaba Rago Market where the applicants carries on their business and validly allocated to them by the respondents”.
Although no date has been fixed for the suit, as gathered, counsels to the traders, O.K. Salawu and S.A. Salaudeen, have served the respondents, to notify them on the need to get prepared for legal battle in the state.
The suit came barely two weeks after the state government through the RRS issued the quit notice, claiming that the move was to end criminal activities prevalent around the axis.
According to the Commander, Rapid Response Squad (RRS), Olayinka Egbeyemi, who led the team, the vacation order was in the best interest of the residents of the community.
He stated that emerging security reports from the area had shown that Alaba Rago has become a den of criminals which also prompted the decision.
Egbeyemi in a statement released on Thursday stressed that the state government has concluded plans to modernize the place in the shortest possible time.
He disclosed that several guns were discovered in Alaba Rago by Ojo Police Division and the revelation by drug dealers that they regularly funnel drugs through the area to several parts of the State also contributed to the decision of the government in order to maintain orderliness.
According to the statement: “He noted that the demolition of the area is in conformity with Government’s T.H.E.M.E.S agenda on Environment and Security, adding that Government is bothered by the shanties and the filthy conditions of the area, hence modernizing it would be in the best interest of the occupiers.
“Egbeyemi beseeched the occupiers not to read ethnic and religious motives into the exercise, noting that Lagos State is a convergence point for all Nigerian, irrespective of religion, ethnicity or tribes.”
On his part, the Chairman, Lagos State Environment and Special Offences Unit (Taskforce), Sola Jejeloye, noted that many meetings have been held with all the major stakeholders in the past and that the demolition should have taken place during the Ramadan.
He said that the Government was sensitive to delay it in order for those who traveled for Ramadan to be returned back to their base.
Jejeloye further stated that the team would not take excuses if the traders do not adhere to the ultimatum after 14-days and that they would be forced to evacuate them forcefully.