If care is not taken, the trouble lurking around the Amuwo Odofin local government area owned shopping complex located at Mile 2 in Lagos State may blow out of proportion.
It could spell doom for the operators of the market, as market women took to the streets protesting alleged terror and mistreatment.
They stripped to their pants and bras on April 27, chanting songs against tyranny and oppression.
The originator of the problem is a certain man, Alhaji Saheed Abiola, otherwise known as Zyad 1 Ultimate, whom the traders say has been unleashing a reign of terror on them using his band of thugs and miscreants.
Abiola has been making life uneasy for the market women, imposing unreasonable levies on them, sending his thugs to beat them.
According to the market women, Abiola has arrogated so much power to himself. He was formerly a member of the executives of the market.
The traders in the market said Abiola was in the habit of ordering his thugs to strip traders bare and flog them publicly to serve as deterrent to others.
Abiola was said to have so cowed many of the traders that they treat him as a thin-god and anyone who dared to confront him paid dearly for the effrontery.
One of the traders said in anger:
“We can no longer do our businesses in the market for fear of being attacked by thugs loyal to Abiola. The men among us have refused to join the protest for fear of being beaten up by Abiola’s thugs. These thugs used to pounce on any trader who dares to challenge him.”
Catherine Omotoyosi Awhidhire, the Iyaloja of the market, said Abiola sent his thugs to beat her up, inflicting injuries on her back and breast.
“He has now taken to flogging aged traders, not caring about their frail health and bodies. He used to boast that he has the police in Festac in his pocket and that nobody would be able to do anything to him.
He used to drop names of important people to further cow the traders. He’s mostly fond of dropping Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s name!”
But the unrepentant Abiola who said he got into the market as a load carrier until he took over the leadership of the market had this to say:
“Babaloja and other traders are only envious of me because of the way I have been generating money. I’m not among the executives of the market, but I’m a major stakeholder in this market.
Since I assumed the leadership of the market, things have started moving on well. I don’t flog the traders. Anybody who gets flogged could be because they are stubborn and do not pay their levies.”
Students of history in Nigeria will know that whenever women strip down to make any form of protest, there is always an ugly repercussion.
Remember the Aba Women Riots in 1929 where women protested naked against the British colonial masters and this brought changes into the system then.