The displaced butchers at the Bodija market who were asked to relocate to Amosun village by Oyo State government have raised alarm that no fewer than 11 of its members and many cows have been arrested and still in the custody of Oyo state Police command.
The butchers who said they were surprised that the police on the order of the state government could invade the market on Thursday and engage the armless butchers in a violent manner despite the fact that there are three pending court cases in different courts; one at magistrate court and two at Oyo State High Court, Ring Road, Ibadan, alleged that they have lost over N300 million since the crisis that claimed lives of about six people on Thursday started.
Secretary of one of the shops at Bodija abattoir, Mr. Adam Babatunde who gave a detailed background of the crisis while addressing journalists at the weekend noted that the abattoir at Amosun village belonged to a private company which the butchers have rejected for many reasons. One of the reasons according to him is the increment of the slathering fees to N3,000 against the N1,000 being charged at Bodija.
Babatunde who said that over 500 cows are being slathered at Bodija alone in a day said it will amount to total exploitation to subject and force all butchers in 11 LGAs and 14 LCDAs in Ibadan to a single place owned by a private company which is contrary to what is obtainable in other states. He also cited the closeness of the abattoir to Akinyele, a predominantly dominated village by Hausa cattle breeders, distance to the city among others as reasons the butchers rejected the relocation move.
He said over 20,000 people including butchers, meat sellers, perishable goods sellers, transporters, unemployed youth and house wives have been affected by the crisis, revealing that forcing them to go to Amosun will no doubt cause a lot of havoc on those whose daily bread are being derived from the butching activities.
While urging the state government under Senator Abiola Ajimobi to rescind its decision on the relocation order, Babatunde wondered why the Governor after refusing to implement the relocation will wake up in a day and ordered that all of them should move to the village 10 months to the end of his administration.
He said, “This project started during Akala regime, it is owned by one of his (Akala) friends, when Ajimobi came, that man when to him and he refused because it is a private company, but we were surprised that when Akala moved to APC, the man went to Akala to beg Ajimobi. That is why they want to implement it now, mind you, Ajimobi has refused to implement it since 2011 when he came.
“We rejected the move, to cut it short, on Friday, some people came with a court order that they want to seal the abattoir, we called our lawyer, Lawyer Femi Johnson who spoke to them, he quoted the law for them and they all left and told us that they were sent to the market to seat it. We were surprised that they came early morning of Sunday and demolished the abattoir.
“Later, the DPO of Bodija called us and said Commissioner of Police want to see us. Some of our members including Mr. Najeem Balogun, Mr. Idowu Adebayo and Mr. Ismail Iware went there, they were later detained and charged to court on Tuesday. They were arraigned at Magistrate court. They said they did not commit any offence and we bailed them. The case was adjourned to July 16, 2018. The court told us to go back and continue our businesses. The police even denied that they were not the one that came to demolish the abattoir. It is in the Nigerian Tribune Newspaper of Tuesday 26 June 2018.
“There are two other cases that are still pending in the court. The one called by the state government and the private company against the butchers in Court 2 at High Court, it was mentioned on Tuesday and it was adjourned till October 24. The court said that the status quo should be maintained, that we should go back to our various locations. That all parties should remain calm till the day.
“There is another case instituted by the butchers in Egbeda local government against the government, that one is in court 4 at High Court, it was mentioned on Wednesday, 27th June, 2018, it was adjourned till October 25th 2018. The court told us to go to our respective locations to do our business but we were surprised that the police could come despite the fact that there are three cases on this matter in courts.
“We have lost over N300 million since they first came to seat the market on Friday, June 22nd. They should allow the court to decide. Many cows at the market have been taken away by the police and they are still in their custody. Many people have been affected, we slaughter about 500 cows per day in Bodija alone at the rate of N1,000 per cow. In a day over 20,000 people feed from this business. We butchers, meat sellers, transporters, married women, unemployment youths among others. At Amosun, they want to be charging N3,000 per cow.
Another butcher, Alhaji Maruf Abdulrauf who said none of the butchers attacked the police station as being speculated, urged the state government to allow peace to reign and allow the butchers go back to their respective abattoirs since the matter is still pending in the courts.
Abdulrauf who said five people among whom are three butchers lost their lives added that one of the victims, a female identified as Iya Mariam is still in critical condition in the hospital.
He said, “The Governor should allow the court to decide, the matter is still in the courts. We lost three of our members, one aluminum apprentice and one woman is still in critical condition in the hospital. Nobody burnt the police station. 11 of our members are still in police custody”.