The people of Ubogo community in Udu Local Government Area of Delta state recently staged a peaceful protest to the Divisional Police Station, Ovwian, over an alleged plan by the local government council, to forcefully acquire and operate the Ubogo Community Market.
Ubogo community, led by its president-general, Comrade Timothy Laya, accused the council boss, Mr. Jite Brown, as well as the traditional ruler, HRM Emmanuel Delekpe, and a community leader, Pat Willie, of plotting to share the land where the market is located, among themselves.
Laya disclosed that Ubogo community recently won a 47-year litigation on the ownership of the land mass, which is approximately 20 acres, hence the concern over the council’s plan to take over the market operations.
Bearing placards with inscriptions such as “Ubogo Community Market is not for sale,” “Jite Brown leave Ubogo Market alone. Go and complete Udu Harbour Market,” the protesters said they do not want the situation at the Udu Harbour and Central markets to be reenacted in the community.
According to the president-general, “The Ovie of Udu, the Council chairman, the council of chiefs and Pat Willie should leave Ubogo Community market alone. We don’t want their hand in the market. They should not boycott Ubogo Community to acquire our property.
“They should leave the market alone for Ubogo Community to develop their property. It is an open land, about 15 to 20 acres of land. They want to take the land by force and share it for themselves. They have acquired Harbour Market in Udu, up till today, it has not been developed. We don’t want that problem in Ubogo,” Laya stated.
But responding to the accusations, vice chairman of the council, Hon. Justice Iyasere, said the local government council reserves the right to operate the market and has contacted an international consultant to build it to international standards.
He explained that operating the market became necessary for the council following the daily obstruction to vehicular movements caused by the traders who display their goods on the road.
He said; “Well, I am not aware of any protest. But as you well know, market operation is under the residual list. The federal government does not even have the right to operate a market. It can build a market but will handover it to the local government council.
“When you are trying to operate a market you seek the approval of the local government council. Now if a community, like Ubogo decides to operate a market at a certain spot, the local government must approve it. What we have done as a council is contact an international consultant so that the market is built to international standard.
“That market is creating nuisance in terms of vehicular movement and traffic flow at that spot. We want to control it and the only way is to build an international market inside the surrounding bushes. Once we are done with that, we will relocate everybody into the market.
“When they got wind of what we were doing, they just decided to go there and started building some shops. Even if you want to build, you have to go to the council or Town Planning office to get approval. We reserve the right to operate markets and do what we are doing at that spot.
“If the community is not satisfied with what we are doing, they need to come to us for explanation and guidance. They have no right to protest against the council. Nobody is contesting ownership of the land with Ubogo community.”