The last may not have been heard of the lingering crisis bedeviling the hitherto peaceful Multi billion Naira International Market known as Balogun Business Association, BBA.
Recall that BBA international market have for sometimes now been enmeshed in an unending crisis occasioned by leadership tussles over alleged refusal of one of its past president, Chief Okey Ezeibe, to uphold the Unions Constitution, loose his said despotic grips on the Association and peacefully relinquish power as the Board Of Trustees ,BOT Chairman , to Chief Anthony Obih, the immediate past president, decades after he (Ezeibe) led the affairs of the market which is located at the international trade Fair Complex, along Badagry Express way,Lagos, as President and BOT Chairman.
However, besides last year’s alleged foiled attempts to invade the market with some police officers, assisted by thugs, with the sole aim of installing his puppet leadership, which was said to have been rebuffed and single handedly was resisted by BBA Chief Security Officer, Police Spy DSP, Prince Chuks Emechebe.
Who most of the traders and Stakeholders ,including some CTC members confirmed that they appreciated and remained grateful to him for his heroic efforts in stopping the planned violence and attempted invasion.
Ezeibe was also accused of organizing a kangaroo ‘election’ in villa park hotel, kilometers away outside the premises of the market, which has since been declared illegal by both a Lagos State High court and a Federal High court sitting in Abuja
Indeed, not deterred by his alleged failed attempts to foist an illegal leadership and return back into office through the back door, the Chief Anselem Dunu led Caretaker Committee,CTC , recently alleged a further moves by Ezeibe to hoodwink the newly deployed Lagos State police Commissioner, CP Sylvester Abiodun Alabi, into enforcing the said obnoxious ‘election’ and forcefully install Chief Oscar paul Ikechukwu Odogwu as his puppet leadership and purported ‘winner’ of the ‘election’ , confirmed to be repugnant to the various courts judgments.
According to the Foremost BOT Member andElder Statesman, Chief Nick Okeke : “With CP Alabi having changed his earlier expressed decision to enforce the election and urged parties to stick to Rule of Law, Ezeibe led group has changed tactics, now peddling rumours and accusing the CTC of Thuggery, unlawful eviction of poor traders from their kiosks, stealing, squandering of money, land grabbing, unlawful sales of reserved lands meant for car parks, garages and environmental uplift.
Reacting, Chief Okeke also denied the allegations and tagged it as frivolous coming from figments of the imaginations of the opposition group.
In an interview with the market leadership, Honourable (Bro) Leonard Ogbonnia, Chairman/ MD of LITHRACO Intl Ltd. Who said he was the Founder of BBA , former President and secretary to the present Caretaker Comittee of BBA/ICC stated thus :
His Words : “Point of correction, BBA has no legal power to sell any piece of land in the Complex but can sublease to members and the affiliates. So, the new structures and Plazas the opposition are complaining, is actually happening is fulfilment of the Association’s resolution reached in two of our plenary meetings to sublease some parts of the Hall 3 for the purpose of discharging some of the Association’s financial obligations since there is total seizure of payments of utility Bill’s which hitherto was the only source of income sustaining the complex”.
On the alleged unlawful eviction, “There is no displacement of petty/poor traders/ plantain roasters/food vendors as alleged by the oppositions/power mongers, instead, the caretaker committee in her wealth of wisdom is passionately relocating such people occupying the make shift and still magnanimously is giving them some financial aides.”
“This arrangement is necessitated by the rapid business growth in the Complex with its attendant need for emergence of more permanent infrastructure to substitute the self help makeshift , thereby complying with the original concept agreed with our landlord-LITFMB ab initio.”
Indeed, Ogbonnaya argued that the new plazas are in tandem with the existing structures and they add value and economic power to the Complex which is contrary to the negative scenario the oppositions are painting.
This, he said was apparently because of the failure of our landlord” to provide us with a commercial haulage park , which has compelled haulage companies to convert every available space in the Complex into park, but by the grace of God and the new development, CTC has been able to secure spaces outside the perimeter fences which are under construction for the purpose of commercial park. In a short while, all haulage companies will be relocated outside the Complex. This is going to be one of the laudable feats achieved by CTC. Don’t forget that all the 45 clusters with average of 280 shops each and all private Plazas have their respective car parks attached.”
“There’s no iota of land grabbing and there is no conflicts of interest as every transaction is geared towards servicing the Complex but I must confess that the crisis the opposition are orchestrating are really whopping out almost all resources”.
He also blamed the opposition for the crisis in the market. “Since inception, the CTC has instituted over 120 peace talks during which some institutions like DSS, Police and Religious groups were invited but unfortunately, oppositions have continued to foil all the steps towards making peace.”
On the delayed election, he noted that the “CTC ought to have concluded elections and handed the management to a new democratically elected officers last year but for the disruption caused by the oppositions. Categorically, I put it to you that no member of CTC wishes to stay a day beyond necessary and we are fighting toot and nail to see if there could be a pronouncement of the court on 30th march granting us leave to conduct election. Suffice it to mean that CTC is ever ready to conduct election and hand over and vacate the seat ,should there be a pronouncement of the court. Whoever therefore is accusing CTC of sit tight syndrome is rather deceptive and mischievous.”
Refuting the allegation of Cultism and thuggery, CTC secretary stated that ” it is rather paradoxical for the opposite to allegedly accuse CTC of importing thugs into the Complex when CTC is the legitimate party that is on the side of the law, enjoying all the Association’s apparatus and paraphernalia should resort to thuggery and hooliganism. I wish to state categorically that should there be any trace of thuggery and cultism within the Complex, it should obviously be credited to the opposition who in their despiration would want to use such illegal and obnoxious means to fight the constitutional rights and powers of the legitimate Caretaker committee of the ASSOCIATION.”
Waving off the issue of holding the CTC meetings in three star hotels , he said “The Association’s secretariat remains our meeting venue though we seldomly handle some sensitive and emergency matters anywhere outside the Complex considering the immediate exigencies of the ASSOCIATION but never in an expensive environment as alleged by the opposition. Worse still, one can’t juxtapose holding meeting in the hotel with holding an illegality and nullity in a hotel miles away from our place of business and purported it to be an election where some desperados hired mercenaries deliberately and recklessly flouted the court judgement and orders. Beside, our ASSOCIATION has a resolution that states explicitly that no elections of the ASSOCIATION shall be held outside the Complex in 2013 and it is still subsisting .”
Angered by the rumors that the CTC leadership took to their heels at the height of alleged planned forceful take over of the market by the police and opposition, he said “What a blatant and pathological lie is being orchestrated by the desperate opposition/ dissidents? If they alleged that CTC and CSO are on the run, who then have been protecting the Complex and the secretariat all this while? Again ,where is this interview being conducted? Are you not physically with me, the CSO, the only subsisting life member of BOT Chief Nich Okeke and Chief Celestine Okafor? Infact, the whole scenario sounds enfantile ,ridiculous and laughable too.”
“There are no such aggrieved traders planning for a revolt instead, the opposition who vowed not to comply with the rule of law have resorted to hiring thugs from Alaba and Iddo to ignite commotion so that Lagos state will take over the market but we are too intelligent to play into their hands,” he said.
Speaking on the alleged Division amongst CTC members, ” we are intact and are anxiously waiting for the court to vacate the status quo order so that CTC can conduct a democratic fair, free, credible and equitable Election. All lawful CONTESTANTS are equally waiting patiently for the courts pronouncement on 30th march; it is only those defiant and insubordinate and unlawful candidates that are trying to create unnecessary tensions in the market, feeding the unsuspecting outside world falsely thereby making people believe that our Complex is not peaceful. However, the youths of the ASSOCIATION have sworn to deal mercilessly with any one who would be used to ignite undue crisis in the market. ”
Responding to the question of their petition against expressed decision to enforce the elections held in a hotel outside their premises, Chief Ogbonnaya explained : “Unfortunately, we have all this while been managing and containing the deadly excesses of this group of dissidents. Of course, we wouldn’t have kept quiet and remained akimbo when the opposition have brazenly attempted to mislead and stampede our sincere and honest CP into enforcing an illegal, null and void purported election of 24th June 2021. What impetuous deception are they showcasing? And you expect us to be calm and allow our seasoned, professional ,erudite and ebullient officer lured into illegality. No! Efforts must be made to avail all relevant authorities the facts surrounding the matter so no authority can wallow in the euphoria of deception. ”
Expressing hope for peace in the market, he concluded, “Though we have continued to make several attempts to proffer panacea to the insatiable opposition yet we are still ready to make further sacrifice towards achieving peace.”