By Lukman Olabiyi, Lagos
The Lagos State Government has urged the general public to disregard a video circulating online showing officials of the Rapid Response Squad (RRS) and the Environmental and Special Offences Unit (Task Force) at Alaba-Rago Market.
A statement issued by the state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotoso, stated that the trending video was accompanied by a voice, which was not that of any official of the two agencies but superimposed to mislead the public.
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Omotoso affirmed that the voice on the video was that of a faceless blogger trying to whip up ethnic and political sentiments over the planned relocation of traders for the remodelling of Alaba Rago Market.
The statement read in part:”The video is authentic because Commander, Rapid Response Squad (RRS), CSP Olayinka Egbeyemi and Chairman, Lagos State Task Force, CSP Shola Jejeloye, were in Alaba Rago last Thursday to brief the traders on the planned relocation. The traders have 14 days to vacate the area to pave the way for the re-modelling.
“Alaba Rago is occupied by traders from many parts of Nigeria and neighbouring West African countries. Any insinuation towards any ethnic attack is a lie and purveyors of such are mischievous. It is a devious attempt to cause trouble among peaceful traders. Such actions should be disregarded. Engagements are ongoing towards a hitch-free temporary relocation of the traders.
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“The planned relocation is part of the Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu administration’s Urban Renewal Programme. Lagos State Government and the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing have just demolished market stalls under Apongbon Bridge ahead of the reconstruction of the bridge, which got burnt.
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“It is illegal to bring ethnic, religious or political colourations to such an exercise, which is designed to ensure development and better security in our communities.
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“The discovery of some locally made shotguns by Ojo Police Division a few weeks ago was part of many other reports that prompted the Government to expedite action on the remodelling of this market.
“About 4:00 a.m. on 3 April 2022, officials of Rapid Response Squad (RRS) intercepted a busload of illicit drugs at Mile 2 en route Mushin. The suspects confessed that the consignments were loaded at night in Alaba Rago.
“The Lagos-Badagry Expressway is an international route. It will be insensitive of the Government not to redevelop an unplanned and filthy market, such as Alaba Rago, with many shanties lined up on such an international route.
“Besides, Alaba Rago is directly opposite the Lagos State University Ojo Campus. Keeping a very busy market like that directly opposite a reputable institution of learning is not right” .