The relevant authorities should work towards a proper governance structure in the market and address the security challenges

In February this year, the popular Mile 12 market along the tail end of the ever busy Ikorodu Road in Lagos erupted in an orgy of violence that lasted for several hours. By the time it was brought under control, more than 10 lives had been lost and property worth millions of naira burnt to ashes by warring parties and hoodlums. While the law enforcement agents were caught napping, the Lagos State Government issued the usual statement, threatening to bring the perpetrators of the violence to book. This should no longer be acceptable.

Mile 12 market is an old and perhaps the biggest market for agriculture produce in the former federal capital city that is host to about 15 million people. With thousands of tonnes of foodstuff arriving in hundreds of trailers from the northern parts of the country, and also carting away finished goods that are north bound on a daily basis, the market is easily one of the most lucrative in terms of taxes and levies collection. That is the underlining cause of the intense power struggle for the control of the market that often snowballs into the incessant violent clashes that have been witnessed in recent years.

Besides, the market, which was initially in a suburb of Lagos with sufficient space for trading activities has, with the rapid expansion of the city and the urbanisation of the area, become choked, helmed in essentially by residential apartments. Space for the teeming populace that throng the market has therefore also become a challenge. A clear evidence is the embarrassing traffic bottleneck along the market’s stretch of the Ikorodu Road, which in spite of the best efforts of the state government, has remained a sore point for commuters plying the road to and from the neighbouring Ikorodu town.

Therefore any serious attempt to deal with the problem will have to take into consideration these twin issues, among others. Now that all the critical stakeholders have agreed on the need to relocate the market to a place that would have enough space for the traders to do their business, it is also important to note that any such relocation without putting in place a proper governance structure would be counterproductive.

This is where the role of the local government council as the constitutional authority for the control of markets comes in. Obviously, and perhaps because of the erosion of the authority of local governments by the state governments nationwide, there has been a gap with regard to security and governance at the grassroots level. It is our understanding that if government functionaries at both state and local government levels appreciate and respect their roles as stipulated by the 1999 Constitution, we would be better placed to address the security and governance challenges that precipitate the violent crises that occur not only at the Mile 12 market in Lagos, but elsewhere in Nigeria.

We therefore endorse the long-term solution proposed by the Lagos State Government to relocate the market to a more conducive environment with enough space for the traders to carry out their business. The government should also ensure that the local government responsible for the control of the market puts in place clear security and governance structures that would engender a peaceful atmosphere for everyone to do their business without any form of harassment by anyone.

In the short term, we urge the local government and the law enforcement agencies to rise up to their duty of providing proper governance and security for the market. The local administration needs to bring all the contending interests to the table to resolve all outstanding issues that precipitate the incessant violence. That done, the police should enforce the resolution and ensure that no one poses any further threat to the peace and security of the market and its environs.