Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, Ahaejiagamba, the President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, has paid a fact-finding visit to Alaba International Market, AIM, Lagos, for an on the spot assessment of tragedy that befell the Igbo traders in the Alaba market.
Iwuanyanwu also expressed deep grief over the extent and worth of the demolitions, and the huge loss of goods. He commended the Igbo spirit of hard work, perseverance, ingenuity, entrepreneurship, and resilience and assured the traders that with the Almighty, they will definitely overcome the immediate challenges.
The Igbo leader said 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 asked the Igbo traders to remain unfazed and in high spirit, assuring them that he will stand against any form of injustice against any Igbo, anywhere and anytime. Iwuanyanwu, however, expressed immense delight over the warm reception by the thousands of Ndigbo that trouped out to receive him and the members of Ohanaeze delegation.
Other members of Ohanaeze Ndigbo in the delegation include Ambassador Okey Emuchay, the secretary general of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Damian Okeke Ogene, vice president general; Chiedozie Alex Ogbonnia, national publicity secretary; Beatrice Eze, treasurer; and C. J Ihemedu, president, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Imo State.
Earlier, in his speech, Camilus Amajuoyi, president of the Alaba International Market (AIM), expressed immense gratitude to Iwuanyanwu and members of Ohanaeze Ndigbo for responding to their yearnings over the callousness meted the Igbo population in Alaba market.
Amajuoyi expressed surprise that soon after their supports to His Excellency, Babajide Sanwo-Olu on his re-election for a second term in Office, the authorities of the Lagos State have served them with a calamity that can only be contemplated on an enemy zone in a war time.
Amajuoyi listed the challenges the Igbo face in the AIM on a daily basis to include: The road to AIM is in a very bad condition. Also, all the road networks in the market are in a detestable condition. The roads are worst during the rainy season as the potholes are always filled with water, making it extremely difficult for people to navigate the roads.
He said that “the 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. Worst still, the authorities are not contemplating compensations on the properties that were officially purchased with all the relevant documents in place.
“That over two hundred mobile policemen 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, the Agbero or those who claim to be agents of the State Government intercept the goods and sometimes they pay up to Two Hundred Thousand Naira (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 AIM; the buyer of the goods is levied between five and ten thousand naira without which the goods may be seized or damaged.
“All they need from the State is to streamline or define the rules of engagement with the Alaba businessmen so that they will understand their legitimate boundaries. 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.
“Remarkably, all the properties 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; why all the indignities?
“The committee that has been set by the state government to investigate into the Alaba tragedy does not have a representative from the Alaba International Market; asking, how can we barb a man in his absence?
“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.”
Based on the foregoing, the president general of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, has constituted a committee comprising Charles Odunukwe (Chairman), Evaristus Ozonweke (Ohanaeze), Geoffrey Mbonu (AlM), Camilus Amajuoyi (AIM), and Eze Christopher Offia, (Ndieze), Obiora Violet (Ohanaeze), Robert Obasi (Ohanaeze), Jonas Okechukwu (AIM), and Vincent Ikwueze (Committee Secretary) AIM.
The details of the terms of reference which include the verification of authenticity of the various claims, cost of damages, among others. Iwuanyanwu explained that after the committee report has been adopted by Ohanaeze Ndigbo, it will be presented to the governors of Igbo extraction through governor of Imo State and the chairman, Southeast Governors Forum, Sen. Hope Uzodimma for further actions.