Trinity market traders protest extortion, threats by government agents

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Traders at the Trinity motor spare parts market at Olodi Apapa in Ajeromi Ifelodun Local Government Area of Lagos State took to the streets recently to protest alleged extortion and threats to life by local government agents led by one Chief Nonso Akamigbo, popularly called ‘Papilo.’

The traders from all zones in the market, locked their shops and marched from Kirikiri Road to the Trinity Police Station where they delivered their message to the police, government and the public chanting, ‘Papilo must go, we are tired of extortion, intimidation and threats.’

According to them, traders in the market have not found it easy in the hands of the local government revenue agents who entered the market and insisted on collecting illegal levies that do not happen in other similar markets like Ladipo and Odi Olowu in Lagos State.

In his address, Chairman of Trinity Market Association, Zone C, Mr Chidi Obienweilo, condemned the activities of ‘Papilo’ and his team and said that the traders have endured enough, and will no longer condone their illegal activities in the market.

He regretted that the traders, after paying their rates, levies, dues and other genuine revenues acrued to the local and State government, ‘Papilo’ who claims to be acting on the directive of the Local Government, comes with thugs and cultists to forcefully collect illegal money from them.

Obienweilo informed that the traders have laid several complains to the Local Government and the police concerning their plights, but the illegal activities continued unabated, so they decided to embark on a peaceful protest. “Papilo is collecting illegal revenues from us and we say we do not want that again. Enough of the extortion, intimidation and threats by Papilo and his group. And, as we are embarking on this protest today, we are sending them a message that we will no longer succumb to their illegal acts, despite their intimidations and threats.”

Chairman of Zone B of the market Hon Chijioke Egbeama said that the protest was a way to fight a known evil.

He was displeased that Papilo, who took the Ajeromi Local Government to court over same illegal tolls when he was chairman of the market, later turned around to do same thing he sued the government for.

“Judgement of the suit was delivered last year against the Ajeromi Ifelodun Local Government. Thereafter, it is shocking that when Papilo left office in 2017/2018, he went to the same Local Government to take the contract of collecting the illegal tolls due to selfish interest,” Egbeama stated.

“We pay legal tolls like motor spare parts and vehicle permit to the state government, we also pay storage fee to the Local Government, LAWMA levies and other fees. Last year, we spent the sum of N750, 000 to support the election of the incumbent Local Government Chairman and we gave him our full support, now, they are using illegal tolls, extortions and threats by Papilo and his armed gang to pay us back.”

Egbeama also said that the activities of the Government agents have made the traders to be financially handicapped, as they end up collecting all the levies and monies they use to take care of the market. “In fact, the Local Government is using Papilo to collect all the levies acrued to the market, like loading and off-loading of containers, and butchering of vehicles, monies from being sold in the market and other hidden tolls from drivers, leaving us with nothing to run the affairs of the market. He also tows vehicles, and any one he tows attracts a fine of about N250,000, if he knows the person, he will collect N130,000 with begging.

“We have approached Papilo to stop such acts, but he continued, insisting that he is working on the authorization of the Local Government. When we met the Local Government Chairman, he said either we cooperate with the revenue agents or relocate our business. It was then it done on us that they had conspired to deal with us.”

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Also, one of of the executive members of Trinity Market Association, Mr Emenike Ugwu also expressed displeasure over the inhuman treatment met on the Trinity market traders by the Ajeromi Ifelodun Local Government and her so called revenue agents.

He said due the illegal fees collection and extortions, customers have discouraged to come to Trinity, rather go to other spare parts markets in Lagos. “For instance, a customer will come and do business with us, off-load about four cars and they will all be towed by Nonso and his team, with the demand to pay them the sum of N250, 000 on each of the cars without anybody saying anything. They have towed about 3000 cars in the last two years.

“He has over 30 touts who threaten us with guns, knives and other weapons. The other day, my zonal Chairman asked ‘Papilo’ why he does these to his brothers, and one of his boys threatened that their guns were thirsty, looking for blood to drink. It was on that note that we knew things have gotten out of hand and we cannot fold our hands and watch people without address to come and kill us in the market. As it is, we are all afraid.

Ugwu frowned that the illegal tolls and extortions have chased customers away, thereby making the market empty. “We use to off-load about twenty containers in the market before, but now it has reduced to about three. You can see that the market is empty, there is no more good business, like before. As time goes on, they may extit the level they are and start breaking our shops to carry our goods and money.”

He called on the Lagos State Government, the police and other agencies involved to come to the aid of the traders by putting the ugly trend to a stop.

Addressing the protesters at the Trinity Police, the Divisional Crime Office, Ola Faweya (SP), commended their patience, tolerance and peaceful disposition on the matter.

He charged them to exhibit more patience for the necessary interventions to be made , so that peace will reign.

“I commend your patience all this while. So, you should not take the laws into your hands. We promise to meet with ‘Papilo’ and the Local Government for a peaceful resolution of the matter,” he stated.

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