Oyo State government has suspended the executive council of Bodija market over an alleged illegal collection of revenue from traders.
Caretaker Chairman, Aare Latosa local council development area (LCDA), Mr Adewale Osoniyi made the government’s decision known to journalists on Friday.
Osoniyi noted that the state government had been inundated with complaints of illegal collections whereas agreement was only just reached that collection of ground rent from the traders should begin in July.
He noted that the executive members of the traders association were fingered in preliminary investigation and arrest of some perpetrators behind the illegal collection.
The suspension, according to Osoniyi, is to allow for proper investigations into the allegations.
He avowed that the vacuum created by the suspension of the executives will not translate into any rancour within the market.
“Some people are involved in collecting illegal monies from the traders. There was a little fracas on Thursday between some of our daily revenue collectors and the market traders union.
“We have been hearing the rumour that we have sent people out to be collecting money on behalf of the state and local government, particularly on behalf of the Governor and the local government chairman.
“But, truly, nobody has sent anyone to collect any revenue from the traders for the government.
“The mode of payment that people know is still what we are using. Traders only pay into a government bank account and only show teller to the government task force. And by the grace of God, we are starting the revenue drive from the first week of July with the collection of ground rent.
“We are suspending the executives of Bodija market traders association with immediate effect. The decision is to allow us to make some investigations after which we will call them back and reach an agreement as to their operation, but for now, they remain suspended.
“We have made some arrest of those collecting the revenue, claiming they are from the government and they are currently at Bodija Divisional Police Station and we are following it up.
“Those we arrested include some executives of Bodija market traders Association. They colluded with some people and started extorting money through illegal collections of revenue in the name of the government and this we are resisting.
“The suspension does not translate to locking the market down. We are only suspending the executive members from parading themselves and running the affairs of the market,” Osoniyi said.
Meanwhile, in its own way of ensuring traders adhere to COVID-19 precautions in markets, Iyaloja of Ibadan land, Alhaja Oyinlola Ameringun has said traders found not wearing face masks in markets risk suspension.
Ameringun, who disclosed this, said a COVID-19 task force has been set up in all 69 markets in Ibadan to caution and reprimand traders who operate in markets without using their face masks.
Speaking with Tribune Online while leading some market women to receive COVID-19 relief packages from the wife of Oyo state governor, Mrs Tamunomini Makinde, Ameringun added that their task force also ensured that all markets had functional handwashing points.
She praised the decision of Governor Seyi Makinde not to close markets, noting that most of the traders lived on what they sold daily.
With the distribution for Thursday having representatives of five markets present, Ameringun prayed that Mrs Makinde extends the palliative to more markets.
“We have informed the traders that the state government will not hesitate to close markets that don’t adhere to COVID-19 precautionary measures. So, we have set up the COVID-19 task force in each market.
“They are to ensure that handwashing facilities are at the entry and exit of their market. The task force also goes around their respective markets and will suspend any trader found not using face masks away from the market,” Ameringun said.
State Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Inclusion, Alhaja Faosat Sanni, who gave out the packages on behalf of Mrs Makinde, assured that the gesture will be extended to other markets.
She explained that the distribution was being done in phases in compliance with social distancing rule and to prevent convergence of the crowd at a point.
In her remarks, Sanni admonished the market women to adhere to health guidelines of constant hand washing, ensuring they stay in a clean environment, maintain social distancing especially from persons coughing or sneezing constantly and report themselves to the hospital if sick.
Market women from New Gbagi, Agbeni, Agbaje, Ogunpa, Bodija benefited in the distribution billed to subsequently be done in other markets.