Tension as Yoruba, Hausa clash in Lagos market

Two persons were feared killed and many others injured on Sunday as Yoruba and Hausa traders clashed at the Ilepo Market in the Oke Odo area of Lagos State.

PUNCH Metro gathered that a Hausa porter, popularly known as Alabo or Bolar boy, mistakenly hit a Yoruba man with the tray he was using to convey goods for traders.

The disagreement was said to have degenerated into a fight between the duo.

Soon, hoodlums from both ethnic groups took over the fight, which turned to a free-for-all.

Policemen from the Oke Odo Division deployed in the area were reported to have shot in the air to disperse the hoodlums and bullets hit one of the Bolar boys.

Angered by the development, the Hausa mobilised and stormed the Ilepo Market with stones, bottles and arrows, looting goods and injuring people.

The Yoruba were said to have assembled at a side of the road, as the two groups blocked the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway and attacked one another.

Police teams consisting of the Rapid Response Squad, Lagos State Task Force on Environment and Sanitation (Enforcement) Unit and Mobile Police, later calmed the situation and restored traffic flow, which had been stalled by the affray.

Broken bottles, tomatoes, pepper, oil and tubers of yam littered the expressway, as many traders lamented their losses estimated at millions of naira.

PUNCH Metro observed that the market was divided into two: the main market occupied by the Yoruba, and the shanties occupied by the Hausa porters and scavengers.

The shanties, also called Bolar, are outside the market fence and close to the refuse dump.

There was heavy security presence in the area, with Armoured Personnel Carriers and police vans mounted in strategic junctions, while armed cops patrolled the flashpoints.

An official of the market, Shina Omotosho, told our correspondent that the fight started around 10am.

He said, “A Yoruba boy and one Alabo (Hausa porter) ran into each other and the Alabo fell down. They fought and the dispute was resolved

“Some of the Bolar boys suddenly rushed into the market and tried to take the Yoruba boy to their Bolar to deal with him. The boy, however, escaped. They immediately ran into the market with arrows and knives. At that point, we reported to the police.”

Another official, who briefed a police team consisting of the task force chairman, Mr Yinka Egbeyemi, said the fight escalated after police intervention.

“The police team shot in the air, but a stray bullet hit one of the Hausa boys. They became angry and that was how the fight escalated. The Hausa came out in large numbers and many people were injured,” he said.

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