The popular Katangowa market in Agbado Oke-Odo Local Council Development Area, LCDA of Lagos State, southwest Nigeria, will soon be no more. The market is known for second hand clothes business, popularly called Okirika and spare part trading.
With a population of over 30, 000 traders, the market is one of the biggest Okirika market in Nigeria. The traders claimed they have been trading in the area for about 30 years.
Last Thursday, Governor Babatunde Fashola, during a tour of facilities in the Lagos metropolis visited the market as part of plans by the government to build a Digital Village that may cost the government billions of naira in the area.
The plan was to relocate the traders in Computer Village in Ikeja to the area. If this is achieved, what is the fate of the displaced traders in the Katangowa market?
When Governor Fashola addressed the traders, he said the government has no plan to relocate them to another area, as they were not the rightful owners of the land.
He said the 17 hectares of land being occupied by the traders and squatters belonged to the state government and the government was not ready to pay compensation to illegal occupants on its land.
The traders had appealed to the governor to resettle them at Amikanle area, which the government had earlier promised to do, but Fashola did not make any commitment to it.
Fashola stated that his administration had kept a track record of resettling and paying compensation to people who had been displaced from their lawfully acquired property.
He, however, said that in a situation where people encroached into government’s land illegally, they should not expect compensation or resettlement when such property is re-acquired by government.
“As far as resettlement is concerned, we have always played an exemplary role . We did Isale Gangan redevelopment, we did Oluwole redevelopment and we resettled the people involved. But in cases where people are squatters, they have no rights over the property.
“The law does not protect illegality, it protects rights and you do not acquire rights by acting illegally. Human rights are legal rights; they are not rights acquired by illegal conduct and we must understand this in a democracy,” he said.
Fashola challenged anybody who claimed to have been deprived of his legally acquired property by his administration without getting compensation to bring forward such claim.
“All of the demolition we did to expand the Badagry Expressway, we are still giving compensation to the displaced people. The people that are displaced in Oshodi will soon relocate to a new market that is ready. We have intervened in Obalende without necessarily displacing the rightful owners.
“I hope that members of the public will understand that they can’t have a right to a place by jumping onto the roadside and saying it is where they must trade. May be, it may be politically popular to agitate citizens who are not aware of what their rights and obligations are.
“People escalate these things. Some people, societies or organisations make profit and get grants at the behest of the so-called masses they claim to be fighting for. The masses don’t have the right to break the law and if they do, we will enforce it,” he stated.
Mr. Femi Adedeji, who spoke on behalf of the traders, said displacing the traders from the market would not augur well with them, as it would have negative impact on them and the state. He claimed that the government had initially said it would relocate the traders to Amikanle area of the state.