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Contrary to speculations that trading activities had been going on at the Balogun Business Association (BBA), Lagos International Trade Fair complex since the commencement of national lockdown, the Chief Security Officer (CSO), Prince Chuks Emechebe, has denied the allegation, saying there is no such thing. Conducting journalist round the sleepy market, it was clear that no trading activity was going on as every internal road was blocked and no shop was open. He therefore advised BBA members to ignore fake news that BBA is open for business. Stressing that BBA can only open on the official announcement from the federal and state government on lockdown.
He gave full explanation of what happened in an interview with Business Hilights at the market’s security gate during the sharing of relief materials for members on Sunday, April 26, 2020.
According to him, “There was an explosion here in Abule-ado that affected Trade fair tremendously, many shops were highly affected plazas were affected, so many buildings were affected. Then on the 18th of the same march there was an announcement of a lockdown by his Excellency the governor of our state Mr Sanwo-olu, who humbly told us that there is going to be a lockdown because of Coronavirus. Life is better to be saved than business, he gave two weeks and everybody was on that order when we heard another order from the President of the federal republic of Nigeria, our humble President Muhammadu Buhari and that wan on the 25th and he gave us on the 26th by 11PM, there is going to be a lockdown for another two weeks.
This market was thrown into panic and pandemonium, and so many people could not take their money from the bank or lay hand on what to eat for those two weeks, and because of that, there have been a very serious problem and the funny thing is that 50 or 60% of the goods in our complex are perishable like beverages, provisions and expired to be items. So on that note, many people were clamouring to take their goods out so that they can sell it to supermarkets and make their money to avoid damage and expiration. So perhaps, on that note we are aware some people are trying to jeopardise the good intent of the government, we are aware of that but we have to run to the government and explain to them what we are going through, that after this Coronavirus, thousands of people may die here out of hunger and sickness and those who have BP may even die.
So the chairman, Honourable Kehinde Joseph after assessing the situation, from Lagos state house of Assembly and Chairman committee on agaric and also Chairman committee on COVID-19 Lagos state, he came and accessed the situation and then called the commissioner, the commissioner I turn called the commissioner of police who directed us to see the DPO and Area Commander who now gave us instruction on how to follow it because many goods are expiring, like Gala, Biscuit, beverages, butter, juice, beers and vegetable wines. So after that we have no other alternative than to come and pick it. We came here to carry it and go, but the worst of it all is that, you know that they are selling flit here and last week there week there was an explosion of that flit at Bayelsa cluster and when the thing exploded, it was like a bomb, so it affected so many shops here and many shops burnt. We still needed to inform our dear honourable who also advise that we should also try and remove all those things and all these flits are all being sold here. And believe me, after two to three days, we now went to a particular shop, a plaza, that one was about to explode everywhere was very hot and that is because there is no ventilation. So what we are trying to do is that we don’t want to incur more debts than coronavirus has caused. Coronavirus is a disease that killed and this one is also a disease that can kill so they are coming to remove all those things and take them away. And Lagos state government gave the food people from ten o’ clock till two o’ clock, then supermarket from ten o’ clock till four o ‘clock. But we cannot open this place because it is an international market. We thank God our DPO is always here.”
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