Many people were injured on Saturday as law enforcement agents and suspected shop breakers clashed at Mandate market in the Adewole area in Ilorin West Local Government Area of Kwara State’s capital.
Some shop owners in the market had complained to security agencies that some petty traders, guards, cleaners, or load carriers who reside in the market always break into shops at night at will.
It was also gathered that policemen from the market police post had raided the market following complaints by some victims of burglary incidents in the market.
It was gathered that some of the suspects arrested were youths from the northern part of the country, and their leaders insisted that they should be released, a situation which degenerated into a fracas.
In the wake of the agitation, pandemonium reportedly broke out in the market, prompting the police to fire tear gas canisters to disperse the mob, which had allegedly gathered to attack policemen and shop owners who lodged complaints with the police.
Following the free for all, shop owners quickly closed for business and ran for their lives while motorists plying the mandate market route from Al-Hikma-University Road and those from Garin Alimi to Mandate quickly made a detour to avoid being caught up in the incident.
A reinforcement of security agents, including the police and operatives of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, were quickly dispatched to the market to bring the situation under control.
The spokesman of the NSCDC in the state, Ayeni Olasunkanmi, said the fracas was the aftermath of a raid earlier carried out by law enforcement officers in the market.
“The issue there at the market was the aftermath of a raid carried out by the Nigeria Police in the market due to complaints from the marketers that some shop breakers used to operate inside the market at night.
“Some of the suspects arrested are Hausas, and their people are insisting that the police should release them.
“The situation there is under control.” “Other sister agencies are there to ensure that the situation is calm,” he said.
Also, the spokesman of Kwara State Police Command, Okasanmi Ajayi, said that the breach of public peace in the market was caused by “a misunderstanding between two groups of tomato and pepper sellers in Mandate Market, leading to a fracas.
He added that the Commissioner of Police for Kwara State, CP Paul Odama, has dispatched teams of policemen to the scene and calm is gradually being restored.
“No casualties on the sides of the marketers or the police have been recorded as of now,” Ajayi said.
(Story first published by Punch)