Written by:Sam Nwaoko-Ado Ekiti
Ado Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital, was brought to its knees on Wednesday when crises broke out among traders in the Erekesan Market and drivers operating in the nearby Old Garage area over yet to be ascertained causes.
The fracas, according to eyewitnesses at the market, started when the drivers allegedly went to a part of the market they said pickpockets hold sway and demanded that a thief that snatched a lady’s bag, said to have contained N36,000, be produced.
They claimed that the robbed lady was related to one of the drivers, and was said to have reported the incident to the driver-relation, who allegedly led his colleagues to the alleged black spot in search of the thief.
The futile effort of the drivers to apprehend the alleged thief, the eyewitnesses added, led to a disagreement and subsequently, a clash between them and butchers who were said to be the traders in the area.
They added that nearby Hausa traders and bureau de change operators got involved in the fracas and in the free for all that ensued, the drivers were driven out of the vicinity when the traders got the upper hand.
Following the trouble, the euewitnesses said the matter was settled afterwards and “we thought it had all ended until this (Wednesday) morning when hostilities resumed among them.”
The sources claimed that following the clash of Wednesday morning, which started at about 7:00 a.m., three people are believed to have been killed, with many others injured.
When Tribune Online visited the scene, there was still tension as hoodlums still held sway, while the police were trying to restore normalcy in the area.
Banks and other commercial outfits in Old Garage, Mugbagba, Atikankan, Ijigbo, Okeyinmi shut their doors.
Parts of the market were torched while numerous shops and stores were looted just as the police mounted security around the market to prevent further breakdown of law and order.
Some of the stalls in the market were still burning on Wednesday morning when the Tribune Online visited the market, while foodstuff and other items littered the market.
Anti-riot policemen, men of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps and other security agents were in the market and were working hard to control the situation.
Meanwhile some of the affected traders alleged that the crisis had degenerated and become a direct clash between Hausa traders and the others, and claimed that two Yoruba men and an Hausa man were the dead in the fracas.
The Public Relations Officer of Ekiti State Police Command, Mr. Alberto Adeyemi, however, did not confirm the death of anyone in the fracas, but said that four persons were injured and were receiving treatment at an undisclosed hospital in the state capital.
Meanwhile, the state government has sued for peace and announced that it had started moves to ensure that normalcy was returned in the market and in the state capital.
The Chief of Staff to the state governor, Chief Dipo Anisulowo, who visited the scene, told newsmen that “a committee would be set up to look into the crisis with the aim to finding a lasting solution to the problem and also nip a re-occurrence in the bud.”
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