From Matthew Aramunde, Lagos
A middle-aged trader at Katan-Gowa market in the Oke – Odo local development area of Lagos state, Mrs. Chidima Egwu, has petitioned the Police High Command, alleging threat to her life.
The embattled trader, who deals in second-hand clothing, in a petition made available to the press and addressed to the Commissioner of Police, Lagos state, is calling on the police authorities to come to her rescue as she is alleging threat to life, stealing of her money and bales of second-hand clothing worth over N500, 000.
She is also alleging that those behind her woes secured the services of men of the Ile -Epo Police Division to illegally arrest, detain and continuously embarrass and harass her.
The trouble, according to the woman, started when some times in 2012 she rented a shop from one William Udemba, who introduced himself as the owner of the said shop. She then paid him N96, 000 rent for the period of one year.
However she said, after two years of regular payment to her “landlord” she was in her shop one fateful day when an elderly woman approached her wanting to know who she was, as she claimed and introduced herself as the land lady of the shop she(Chidima) is occupying.
It was with shock and disbelief that she mustered up courage to tell this “stranger”, that she rented the shop from one William Udemba and have been paying N96, 000 annually.
Chidima said she was more shocked when the lady informed her that William Udemba whom she originally rented the shop to has only been remitting to her bank account N48,000 which was the amount she gave out the shop to the said William fourteen years ago.
Speaking further, she said the middle aged woman before leaving, instructed her to tell William to see her and that when he eventually came and she informed him of her encounter with the unexpected stranger and what they discussed, William went livid with anger and that she observed that since then, she has been harassed and traumatized by William.
Narrating further, she said under pressure, she took the matter to the market union leaders in order to get reprieve but to her chagrin, William who is a member of the market union executive, have been able to persuade his fellow executive members to turn the heat on her and rather than get the anticipated reprieve, some executives allegedly started demanding sex from her to which she bluntly refused to accede to.
For her effrontery, the men of Ile-Epo Police Division were invited into the matter before whom she was branded a trouble maker and without proper investigation, she was arrested, detained and even when she was released, one Odus and some hoodlums on behalf of the market executives continually threatened to deal with her for being stubborn.
If she thought that those threats were empty threats, the executives of the market started initiating the process of evicting her by increasing the rent from N96,000 she hitherto has been paying to N120,000 and when she demanded to know why the sudden increase, they sent thugs to beat her up inflicting bodily injuries on her.
The sordid situation came to headway when sometime in February 2014, she returned from a trip to Imo State to discover again to her shock, that her shop had been sealed up and when she protested and was allowed to gain entrance, discovered that bales of second hand clothing worth N400,000 and cash sum of N120,000 were carted away and when she demanded to know why the market executives unlawfully broke into her shop to cart away her goods and money ,she was handed a notice that for her insubordination and alleged refusal to submit to their sexual advances, she is hereby forthwith banned from doing any business in the market for two months.
When our Crime Correspondent visited the market, those who spoke on the condition of anonymity revealed that the market executives live and operates like lord of the manor and that their word is law and that any trader that dare question their actions and inactions does so at his or peril.
Efforts to talk to those who are in charge of the market met with brick walls as our correspondent reliably gathered that the Chairman who is only competent to talk on issues of this nature, was not available As at the time of going to Press, the Area Commander, Area M Command, Shinkafi, an Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), upon notice have demanded that the market executive be invited to his office at Idimu.