Traders at the Lagos International Trade Fair, LSITF, embarked on a peaceful protest, yesterday, to register their displeasure over plans by the Federal Government to concession the market, saying two existing contracts are yet to expire.
The situation led to the closure of the market in the early hours of yesterday. Traders and companies domiciled in the complex could not gain access until the protest ended.
Earlier, when Vanguard visited the complex, there was confusion over the development as some claimed the Federal Government was behind the closure, while others alleged that All Progressives Congress, APC, was conducting a solidarity rally at the market.
Further findings showed that the leadership of the various sections of the market decided to shut the place in protest over what they described as the imminent transfer of ownership when there are existing contracts.
The traders, who were drawn from ASPAMDA, Balogun Business Association, BBA; Mandilas, and African Tyre Village, told Vanguard that some parts of the LSTIF were leased out for 50 years while another area was given out for 99 years.
Also speaking to Vanguard, Assistant Secretary, Balogun Business Association, Chief Nwachukwu Maduakor, said a protest letter was handed over to the Executive Director, LISTF, Chief Lucy Ajayi, for onward transmission to the Federal Government.
His words: "We held a peaceful protest to register our disapproval of the move by the Federal Government to concession the market while the ongoing contract is yet to elapse.
"This is going to be a continuous protest until the Federal Government drops its interest in our leased property. Some property are actually on a lease for 50 years, while others were leased for 99 years. The 50 years lease will expire in 28 years.
"We pay land use charge and ground rent yearly through the major markets here. Last year, we decided to go to court because of constant harassment. For now, they haven't provided us with any documentation of what they want. We are in court but you need to understand that the Federal Government indirectly runs the court."
Confirming the protest, spokesperson of Lagos State Police Command, Mr Bala Elkana said, the peaceful protest was held yesterday at 8 am.
He said: "The stakeholders in Trade Fair and others held a peaceful demonstration within the premises following reports that the Trade Fair Complex is about to be sold by the Bureau of Public Enterprise not minding that various leases are still subsisting.
"Executive Director of Trade Fair, Mrs. Lucy Ajayi addressed them accordingly and promised to inform the authority about their grievances."