The ever busy Lagos International Trade Fair Complex was, on Monday the 18th of March, 2019, shut for few hours before it was later opened to traders who were already stranded and confused over the development.
Meanwhile, an official of the complex who preferred not to be mentioned told Vanguard that the complex was shut by the presidents of the various market groups within the Trade Fair to protest what an alleged hijack of the complex by a popular politician in Lagos.
Trade Fair Lagos where majority of the traders are Igbo has been shut down and those whose businesses are there are locked out. @segalink @AbdulMahmud01 @renoomokri @DrJoeAbah @followlasg @AsiwajuTinubu pic.twitter.com/3Szx9EBcC0
-- I Stand with @HonRitaOrji (@joshseal5) 18 March 2019
According to him, the popular politician in connivance with other powers that be, want to take over the Trade Fair complex, a move the marketers have continued to resist.
Recall that the complex had been a subject of conflict over planned concession by the Federal Government.
The Lagos Trade Fair complex was concessioned to Aulic Nigeria Limited in 2008. However, the National Council on Privatisation had, in September 2018, approved the revocation of the concession of the trade fair complex.
But the trade groups at the complex, under the platform of Forum of International Trade Fair Complex comprising Auto Spare Parts and Machinery Dealers Association, ASPMDA, Association of Progressive Traders of Nigeria, Call Park Ventures Limited, C-Tempo International Limited, Balogun Business Association/International Centre for Commerce, Mandillas International Trade Centre/Mandillas United Traders Association of Nigeria, Associiation of Nigeria Tyre Marketers, Lagos International Trade Fair Plaza Owners Association and Tools and Hardware Dealers Association, launched series of protests to object the move.
The traders' groups had noted that they were not consulted over the planned revocation of the concession, despite the fact that they hold 75 per cent lease of the complex for 50 years, beginning from 2004 and had been paying their fees yearly as agreed.
President of ASPMDA, Mr Daniel Offorkansi, had, while addressing journalists in ASPMDA, last year said that the Federal Government ought not to have mulled to concession the 25 per cent underdeveloped land at the complex without first giving its occupants the choice of first refusal.
He had said that, "We hereby state that the stakeholders who have invested so much in the complex up till present are being marginalised and short-changed. This apathy did not start today. The same thing played out in the days of the first concession. The stakeholders and indeed the entire members of the individual associations inexplicably suffered from the Federal Government's policy summersault.
"We only heaved a sigh of relief when the current Executive Director of the Lagos International Trade Fair Management Board took over.
"The stakeholders cannot continue to keep quiet in the face of obvious threat to our investments and business goodwill. Having been exposed once to an unsavoury experience from a direct consequence of the concession, we demand a fair treatment at this material time and government should bear in mind the attendant impact of the concession on our business goodwill, both locally and globally.
"We are using this medium to state that about 75 per cent of the complex had already been leased out, fully developed and occupied by various interest groups now collectively referred to as the stakeholders, which lease agreements are still valid and subsisting."
Meanwhile, today's closure for some hours of the complex was done by the presidents of the various market groups to protest an alleged fresh plans to allegedly take over the complex by a notable politician.
Vanguard is currently reaching out to President-General of the complex and other leaders for more details.