There was pandemonium in the Oshodi area of Lagos, on Monday, as shops belonging to Igbo traders were allegedly forced shut by hoodlums said to be sympathetic to the All Progressives Congress.
It was gathered that the hoodlums beat up some of the traders for allegedly voting for the Peoples Democratic Party during the presidential and National Assembly elections that held on Saturday.
The hoodlums invaded the market around 5am and destroyed some shops before the traders arrived to set up their wares.
It was learnt that the hoodlums returned around 7am to beat up some of the traders, who were assessing the damage done to their shops.
One of the traders, who identified himself simply as Emeka, and whose shop was destroyed, said the hoodlums had no justification to attack the traders and their means of livelihood for exercising their civic right, adding that they were paying taxes to the Lagos State Government.
A trader, who refused to give her name, said, “There was a problem with the ‘area boys’ this morning at Oshodi. They blocked our shops for almost an hour before the ‘Operation Python Dance’ operatives came and the hoodlums fled.
“The attack was accentuated by their belief that we the Igbo, who are doing business in Oshodi and environs, voted for the PDP instead of the APC. They even threatened to drive us out of Oshodi and place curses on us.
“So, in the process, information got to the ‘Operation Python Dance’ operatives, who ordered everybody to reopen their shops. That was when people resumed their normal business.
“What we have seen is that the youth acted based on some people’s directives. We don’t know those who sent them to attack us. Does it mean that we don’t have the right to vote for whoever we want?
“Must we vote for the same person they are voting for? It is wrong and this should not be a part of the democratic process. There are so many other things happening here, but we don’t say them out in the interest of peace.”
The member representing Oshodi Isolo 1 in the House of Representatives, Mutiu Shadimu, condemned the action of the hoodlums and called on the authorities to bring the perpetrators to justice.
He stated, “This morning, I was informed that non-indigenes were being attacked in Oshodi. The hoodlums were alleged to have asked the traders not to open their shops for voting for the PDP. This is rather unfortunate in a country that is supposed to be a federation. Every citizen has the right to live wherever they want to live and have the right to vote for whoever they want to vote for.
“No individual has the right to stop them from carrying out their civic duty. We are gradually running towards anarchy and I implore the agencies and people in government to keep up with their constitutional duties and bring to justice those who perpetrated such an act.”
The Lagos State Task Force on Environmental Sanitation and Special Offences, however, debunked the news of the incident, stating that the alleged civil unrest was a rumour.
In a statement issued by its Head of Public Affairs Unit, Adebayo Taofiq, the Chairman of the task force, CSP Olayinka Egbeyemi, was quoted as saying that the agency and other security outfits were in constant patrol of the area to prevent the breakdown of law and order.
“Members of the public are hereby enjoined not to panic and go about their lawful business around Oshodi and other parts of the state,” he added.
Similarly, the Lagos State Police Command dispelled rumours of attacks on Igbo traders by ‘area boys’ in Oshodi.
The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, CSP Chike Oti, said in a statement, on Monday, that although the command received distress calls about the rumoured attacks, operatives were deployed in various parts of Oshodi and environs, adding that it did not receive information about any attack.