The Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide has constituted a committee to look into the degree of losses incurred by Igbo traders following the demolition of buildings belonging to Ndigbo at the Alaba International Market by the Lagos State government.
The committee, which was inaugurated by the president general of Ohanaeze, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, has Dr Charles Odunukwe as chairman, with Evaristus Ozonweke, Geoffrey Mbonu, Chief Camilus Amajuoyi, Eze Christopher Offia, Obiora Violet, Robert Obasi, and Jonas Okechukwu as members. The committee has Vincent Ikwueze as secretary.
This was contained in a statement by Ohanaeze’s national publicity secretary, Dr Alex Ogbonnia. The committee’s terms of reference, according to the release, include the verification of the authenticity of the various claims of the traders and property owners and cost of damages.
Chief Iwuanyawu said the report of the committee would be adopted by Ohanaeze, and henceforth be transmitted to governors of Igbo extraction through the governor of Imo State and chairman, South East Governors’ Forum, Sen Hope Uzodimma, for further actions.
Recall that the Ohanaeze hierarchy, led by Chief Iwuanyawu, recently, visited the market to assess the level of losses incurred by Igbo traders.
Iwuanyanwu expressed grief over the demolitions of property of Ndigbo in the market, and commended the Igbo spirit of hard work, perseverance, ingenuity, entrepreneurship and resilience. He assured the traders that with the Almighty, they would overcome the immediate challenges.
The Ohanaeze PG was quoted as saying that, “If a Nigerian can buy property in any part of the world, there is no reason a Nigerian will have his/her property demolished in any part of Nigeria, at a very short notice, and without justifications.”
He urged them ‘to remain unfazed and in high spirit, assuring them that he will stand against any form of injustice against any Igbo, anywhere and anytime’.
The president of the Alaba International Market (AIM), Chief Camilus Amajuoyi, thanked Ohanaeze Ndigbo for responding to their ‘yearnings over the callousness meted to the Igbo population in Alaba market’.
Amajuoyi expressed surprise that soon after their support to His Excellency, Babajide Sanwo-Olu on his re-election for a second term in office, the authorities of the Lagos State served them ‘with a calamity that can only be contemplated on an enemy zone in a wartime’.
The statement quoted Amajuoyi as listing the challenges the Igbo face in the market to include: “That Lagos State authorities marked about three buildings for demolition; according to them, the buildings were distressed and could collapse anytime. Surprisingly, they ended up destroying over thirty buildings at a very short notice.
“The worst part of the tragedy is that the lands are being resold out with fencings going on. Worse still, the authorities are not contemplating compensations on the property that were officially purchased with all the relevant documents in place.
“That over two hundred mobile police men were present when the structures were being pulled down indicates that the state government is aware of the demolition exercise.
“That after the imported goods or containers are cleared at the Lagos wharf, those who claim to be agents of the state government intercept the goods and sometimes they pay up to N200,000 per container before it gets to the warehouse.
“For anybody to build a house on a property he has duly purchased, he pays fees/levy at the foundation level; another fee/levy at the first decking; for any other decking, a fee will be paid; even to put glasses, attracts another levy.
“The customers are daily embarrassed after they have purchased goods from the traders; the buyer of the goods is levied between five and ten thousand naira without which the goods may be seized or damaged.”
He said Ndigbo in Lagos are law-abiding, adding that they genuinely acquire their property, and do not deserve what the state government visited on them.
According to him, “Every corpse of an Igbo that dies in Lagos is always taken to the ancestral home. Therefore, the Igbo in Lagos lay no claim or pretensions over the ownership of Lagos.
“All the property we occupy in Lagos are never procured by force; we either buy or rent with official legal documents in place. We pay all the legitimate dues to the Lagos State, thereby adding values to the economy of the state.
“Over one million Igbo young men and women in the AIM are not asking government for any employment; we are self-employed. All we ask the Lagos State government is the conducive environment for our businesses and a cordial relationship with both our neighbours and the host communities.”