No fewer than 200 armed mobile policemen on Thursday forcefully ejected over 600 planks traders at the popular Temidire Planks Market Ibadan barley five (5) days to the August 1st hearing of a suit instituted by the traders against Oyo State government.
DAILY POST learnt that in the ensuing melee, a plank seller identified as Mr. Lukman Gboye was reportedly shot by the overzealous police officers.
Some traders were, however, arrested during the forceful ejection for resisting forceful takeover of the market.
Those arrested were Ogunsola Kazeem, Muritala Mojeed, Kareem Suraju and S. A. Adekola.
The traders who were caught unawares by the invasion, wondered why Commissioner for Environment and Water Resources in the state, Mr. Isaac Ishola who led the security agents to the market failed to honour the subsisting court order of the State High Court, presided over by Justice A. A. Gbolagunte of Ibadan Judicial division in suit number I/1152/2012 between the traders and Commissioner of Lands, Housing and Survey and Attorney General of Oyo state as defendants.
Counsel to the traders and former Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in the State, Mr. Michael Lana described the invasion as sad for the rule of law and the people of the State.
Lana said, “Today is a sad day for the rule of law and the people of Oyo state. This is a day when a democratic governor and his arrogant commissioner, Isaac Ishola used Mr. Abiodun Odude’s policemen to denigrate the judiciary and violate its order of injunction granted since 2013. Senator Abiola Ajimobi recklessly used the police to shoot the very people he swore on oath to protect just because, according to my clients, he wanted to sell the traders’ land to a foreign interest and deprive his own people of the means of livelihoods. It is very sad.”
He said that his chamber had immediately after the invasion, proceeded to file a contempt of court under Form 48 (Order IX, Rule 13) at the Registry of the Court against Environment Commissioner, Commissioner of Police and the Divisional Police Officers at Gbagi police station to bear the consequences of disobedience to ruling of the court.
But Ishola while ordering the closure of the plank market for what he called environmental safety concerns, cited environmental health hazards caused by the saw millers’ activities as superseding ownership tangle.
“The issue here is environmental not ownership. They burn sawdust here discharging dangerous emissions that cause health hazards for the people around here. The place is also prone to flooding because there is no drainage here.”
“The interest of the public takes priority beyond individual or organisational interest. Government cannot just close its eyes when it sees people dying due to health hazards from the sawmill. All over the world, sawmill is located on the outskirts of the town but this is inside the town. So, they have to relocate to the alternative Fasade community that government has provided. Due to environmental issues, especially the health of our people, Temidire plank market is hereby closed with immediate effect,” he said.
The Chairman, Temidire Sawmillers Planks Market, Elder S. A. Alabi told journalists that a meeting was held between the Environment Commissioner last Tuesday where he threatened to shut the market for his failure to honour his invitation in a letter dated Monday, 17th July, 2017 and signed by the Ministry’s Director of Admin and Supplies, Mrs. O. O. Adebusuyi.
Elder Alabi said he was unavoidably absent at the said meeting but sent representatives to the Commissioner and expressed shock over the “Gestapo manner with which the commissioner stormed the market with about 22 security patrol vans to disrupt our businesses”, stressing that, “our people are law abiding and we pay our market rates to the government regularly, the last was paid just last Friday.”
The affected saw millers following the closure order protested outside the market for hours and charged towards the policemen who warned them to comport themselves.
While the saw millers are holding on to a July 11, 2013 interim order of the High Court, Ibadan, restraining their ejection, the state government said the closure stemmed from complaints by residents of the area of environmental health hazards emanating from activities at the plank market.
The Financial Secretary, Temidire Saw millers Planks Market Mr. Matthew Ojeyinka while showing the court order urged the state government to obey the court judgement restraining their ejection.
On why some of them have failed to move to the alternate Fasade provision, he said that those who relocated to Fasade were not authentic members of the saw millers association.
He maintained that a non-indigene of the state and non-member of the saw millers association was foisted upon them as head at the Fasade site which the traders are kicking against.
Ojeyinka, however, maintained that members of the saw millers association would vacate the market only if there was a court judgement to that effect.