Traders in the popular Oko-Baba Plank Market in Lagos State have rejected the eviction notice handed down by the National Headquarters of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, RCCG.
They, however, urged the Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo and the State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, to intervene in the matter urgently. The traders demanded that the Vice-President should instruct the Church to honour the June 2015 agreement signed between the traders and RCCG over litigation on the market land.
According to the traders, rather than adhere to the agreement, which demanded that RCCG stay action until the State Government relocates the traders before claiming their land, the Church embarked on the destruction of traders’ property.
Speaking on behalf of the traders in Ebutte-Metta, Mr. Oludare Dada lamented that the church, aided by policemen attached to Denton Police Station, stormed the market, erected wall and arrested some traders including 73-year-old Sawmiller, Kehinde Odusami.
Though the traders were released after several hours, Dada argued that they would not accept eviction since the Government was yet to complete their new site in Agbowa, Ikorodu. Dada said: “We have binding agreements with the State Government since the administration of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and RCCG.
But the action of the church’s personnel, aided by the leadership of the religious organisation, cannot be overlooked. “It is unbecoming of the church and the personnel in its employment, to destroy our property and prevent us from gaining access to the market where we earn our daily income. RCCG must know that there is law and no one is above the country’s law.
“We, therefore, appeal to Prof. Osinbajo, an ordained pastor of the church, and State Government to prevail on the Church and its Chief Security Officer, Mr. Clement Bamgboye, to respect the court and honour earlier agreements signed three years ago between both parties,” he added.
Responding on behalf of the Church, the Assistant General Overseer, Admin and Personnel, of RCCG, Pastor Johnson Odesola, in an interview with Vanguard, hinted that the land was designated for a key project which construction works should have started years ago.
“We held series of meetings with them, appealing to them on why we needed to reclaim our land,” he said. Odesola argued that the initial agreement between both parties was for the traders to relocate immediately the State Government completes the relocation site.
But lately, he noted, the traders started acting against an earlier agreement with the church. Odesola said: “When they complained of the road, we appealed to the governor to fasttrack the completion of the road network. After this, they claimed that they will not have customers.
“When we pressed further, they came with a bill claiming what has been invested on the land that they should be compensated. But we kicked against it because we have Certificate of Ownership, C of O. “We have given them enough time because whenever we demand to take possession of our land, they will plead for more time.
When we realised that they weren’t ready to leave immediately, we decided that we should build a fence to secure the land. But they kept removing the fence. We don’t want anything that could cause a face-off between the church and the traders.”