Ibrahim Mohammed Gambari
Following the clash that took place at the Mandate Market in Ilorin on Saturday, March 25, The City Gazette accosted a leader of one of the Traders Associations who is also a major pepper dealer in the market to narrate his account of the incident.
The market leader who did not want his name in print, noted that, “Four gates led to the Market, So around 6pm every day, the tradition is, three out of the four gates be locked with the main gate, where the Police Post is situated open. In fact, they (the Police officers) only open one door of the main gate for shop owners and motorists to access in the evening, in order to monitor people’s movement in and outside the market. In fact, at times we used to experience hold up at the main gate because all the traffic going in and outside the market has been diverted to the main gate for security reasons.
“But unfortunately, after market hours, we do see strange faces inside the market because there is a bet shop inside the market and beside, the police officers do collect money from some commercial Okada riders to allow them sleep inside the market. With the other three gates locked, there is no way they could have gained access into the market without the knowing of the police officers. They can’t scale through the fence with their motorcycles.
“With the continued influx of strange faces with criminal tendencies, we began to experience attacks on our various shops, leading to financial losses.
“Seeing that shop owners were bitterly complaining, the policemen, in their unjust action, arrested the Hausas who are helping us to offload goods from trailers, holding them responsible for the incessant burglary and theft in the market without challenging those strange faces in the market.
“The worst part was, after arresting the Hausas days back, the officer came on Friday to arrest them again when they were breaking fast in order to extort money from them. So, this cruel act got the Hausas angry and that was how the clashed started.”
The witness countered claim making rounds on the social media that the Yorubas and the Hausas were involved in a serious bust-up in the market.
Meanwhile, the Kwara State Government has intervened in the issue and since restored normalcy in the commercial centre with trading activities expected to take full force on Tuesday.