Before Thursday, Mile 12 market was bubbling with life and trade. The market offers farm produces cheaper than any other place in Lagos and it is always a destination for most mothers and food vendors who live on the Mainland.
Oyingbo Market services most residents on the Island. As a matter of fact, retailers in Oyingbo visit Mile 12 regularly to keep their stock.
But on Thursday, trading activities were put to a halt at Mile 12 Market when a commercial motorcyclist, “Okada” recklessly ran into a pregnant woman.
He was apprehended and warned to be more careful while riding but instead of taking to the advice, the Okada operator brought out a knife and cut a resident in Agiliti Area of Mile 12.
The victim is a Yoruba man, the cyclist, a northerner and with a bit of ethnic colouration, the fray rashly grew to a communal clash. No fewer than 10 persons were killed, houses were burnt, leaving the market deserted.
Shoes littered the streets, fresh carcasses beset the roads, pupils and passersby could not get to their destinations, they hid to save their lives from the rampaging mobs.
The fracas threw the popular Ikorodu Road into serious traffic jam with many commuters stranded. The taffic spread to the Third Mainland Bridge.
Even before the State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode could make public announcement, shops and stalls had been closed, cart pushers in had vanished, except the fruits and tubers that are waiting for potential consumers.
It could be remembered that the Yoruba/Hausa clash in Idi-Araba in 2002 started just like this and what followed then was retaliatory attacks. Many Hausa fled never to come back to Lagos. Many people were killed among both groups until the police restored order, which took almost two weeks to do.
Today, Lagos has become an informal refugee camp for most northerners who fled the bomb of Boko Haram insurgents and it must be noted that most of them had come with various locally made weapons.
According to eyewitnesses, almost all the okada operators arrested by the police on Thursday were in possession of knives and other dangerous weapons. “They pursue their victims and slaughter them,” a resident of Agiliti who refused to mention her name said.
It took the intervention of the police, the Lagos Fire Service to disperse the mobs and put out the fire in some of the houses in the community.
The only bridge that links Agiliti to other community was destroyed by the irate commercial motorcyclists. “But not all of them escaped, we have made some arrest,” the state Commissioner of Police, Fatai Owoseni stated.
He assured Lagosians of a peaceful Mile 12. Meanwhile Ambode has ordered temporary closure of the market pending when absolute peace will resurface. He promised that every legal action would be employed to ensure that justice is done to the perpetrators of the criminal activity.
But he warned that nobody should give the clash any ethnic colouration.