By Yemi Adeleye
Lagos State chapter of Committee for the Defence of Human Rights CDHR) has urged Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu to address controversies over the weekly environmental sanitation held in markets in the state on Thursdays.
The group listed the controversial issues to include indiscriminate locking of shops and seizure of goods at markets over non-compliance with the weekly market cleaning exercise.
Chairman of CDHR, Mr Alex Omotehinse called for the government’s clarification in a statement on Tuesday in Lagos.
The statement came against the backdrop of alleged locking of shops in Kosofe Local Government Area on July 4 by some officials of the Ikosi-Isheri Local Council Development Area (LCDA).
He said: “Please, we need proper clarification and enlightenment on the Thursdays environmental sanitation.
“It is high time the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Justice did a proper clarification on the position of law on this issue that was initially strictly for markets in Lagos State.
“For some years now, Thursday environmental sanitation has been an issue leading to one thing or the other.
“Those that are saddled with the responsibility of ensuring compliance have been using the law to extort and exploit the innocent shop owners at inner streets of various communities.
“It is a recurrent decimal which should not be allowed to continue. Many market men and women are complaining of illegal sealing off of shops and extortion over the Thursday sanitation exercise.’’
According to him, on July 4, at about 8:00 a.m., the health officers at Maidan Health Centre under the Ikosi-Isheri LCDA also allegedly invaded the meeting venue of CDHR Mile 12 Unit in a shop.
“The officials went to the meeting office, opposite the Mobil Filling station, to lock the shop even when the owner of the shop had yet to arrive,’’ he said.
The CDHR chairman said that the venue was clean when the officials came.
Omotehinse said that when the shop owner arrived and went to the health centre, the government officials were demanding fine, saying so many shop owners had been suffering such treatment.
“Now, I want to implore the Attorney General and the office of the Directorate of Public Prosecution to as a matter of urgency interpret the position of the law on locking of shops or seizure of goods.
“Only a court of competent jurisdiction can give an order for the locking of shop or seizure of property.
“The CDHR, Lagos branch, will not hesitate to drag the Kosofe Local Government Area and Lagos State Government to court to seek redress on this matter,’’ he said.
Omotehinse said that the LCDA was not known to law, adding that such act of going into the inner streets to lock people’s shops over the Thursday sanitation exercise was illegal.
“This release deserves an urgent attention to save our society from unscrupulous elements hiding under government agencies to extort innocent Lagosians,’’ he said.
The right activist advised local councils to rather intensify efforts at alleviating people’s suffering instead of aggravating their pains.
He said that Ikosi-Isheri residents wanted to feel the impact of the council more.