- Debunks allegations of invasion, forceful ejection
By Gboyega Akinsanmi
The Concessionaire of Alade Shopping Mall, Master Reality International Concepts Limited yesterday said the relocation of shop owners and traders from old Alade Market to the new one followed due process.
But the concessionaire debunked allegations of unlawful invasion into the market and forceful ejection of the traders some aggrieved traders under the aegis of Association of Concerned Traders in Alade Markets levelled against it.
The Chief Executive Officer of the concessioning firm, Mr. Lai Omotola made the clarification in a statement he issued in response to an open letter a legal practitioner, Mr. Jiti Ogunye, wrote to Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode on behalf of the concerned traders.
In the letter to Ambode, the concerned traders had alleged that the officials of Ikeja Local Government and by extension Lagos State Government continued “to invade the market and eject traders therefrom.”
In his statement, however, Omotola said the letter contained some errors, which he said, compelled the concessionaire “to give true position on the successful relocation of Alade Market after a 20-year dispute was resolved.”
He said there was “never a case of invasion into the Alade Market or forceful injection of traders and shop owners from the market. Rather, series of dialogue and peace meetings were held among three key parties: Ikeja Local Government, Association of Alade Market Men and Women and the concessionaire.”
The chief executive added that peace meetings had yielded enviable results, saying the parties agreed that an alternative market should be built to avoid undue disruption of commercial activities of the traders.
In line with the resolutions of the peace meetings, he said the alternative market “has been fully constructed. It was constructed at a location about 100 metres away from Old Alade Market with more parking lots, central generators, modern toilets, safe & secure environment and unhindered access & exit.
“After completing the alternative market, a group of concerned traders suddenly rose against the relocation of old Alade Market. The concerned traders are not shop owners in old Alade Market. They only rented shops from the original allotees and real tenants of the Ikeja Local Government.
“So, the concerned traders are never legal occupants of the market because there was never tenancy agreements between the local government and these traders. So, they lack legal grounds to either sue the parties or protest the relocation of the market,” the chief executive explained.
The chief executive further explained that only 49 traders, who never rented shops from the Ikeja Local Government, “are the ones working against a project, which in all senses, will boost the state’s internally generated revenue (IGR). We will not succumb to any blackmail from any quarters.”
He acknowledged that an Ikeja High Court ordered that all parties should maintain status quo ante until the substantive suit was determined, noting that the court made the order at the time the concessionaire had started work on the project site.
By implication, he explained that that the order “did not affect our construction work. There is no case of contempt here. Also, the court rejected an application in which the concerned traders were seeking to restrain us from executing the project. But the court did not grant the application.”
Contrary to a position canvassed in the letter, the chief executive said before its successful relocation, serious environmental and security concerns formed the core reasons for the need “to redevelop the old Alade Market to an ultra-modern shopping centre befitting the megacity status of Lagos.”
He disclosed that two fire incidents had occurred in old Alade Market, which according to a report of the Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development really undermined its structural integrity.
Also, Omotola pointed out that traders in the old market “were using over 100 generators, which were responsible for unacceptable environmental nuisance and avoidable emergency cases before final relocation. A good number of traders converted their shops to residence contrary to the standard practice anywhere in the world. Lagos must not be an exception.”