No fewer than five persons were said to have been killed in Ibadan, Oyo State, during a clash between butchers at the Bodija International Market and police on Thursday.
Goods said to worth millions of naira was reportedly destroyed in the clash.
Some butchers, who spoke to our correspondent on condition of anonymity, alleged that five people were killed by the police in the clash.
“We were shot by the police while trying to protect our business. They wanted to force us out of the market which is not fair. We were peaceful but they shot at us,” one of the butchers said.
The state Commissioner of Police, Abiodun Odude, however, said two people died in the clash.
It was gathered that the fight was as a result of the order issued by the Oyo State Government to the butchers to relocate to a modern abattoir in Amosun Village, in the Akinyele area of Ibadan.
The butchers had refused to vacate the Bodija abattoir, which the state government described as illegal. On Tuesday, the butchers staged a protest at the state secretariat over the demolition of the Bodija abattoir by the state government.
The government had said it decided to relocate the abattoir in order to curb the unhealthy process of slaughtering of animals.
On Wednesday, the government stated that a task force has been constituted to enforce the butchers relocation to the central abattoir.
In a move to resist the order, the butchers gathered early on Thursday and confronted the security forces. Some of the butchers accused their leaders of taking gratification from the government to enforce the order.
Gunshots were heard during the clash at the abattoir section of the Bodija market as traders locked their shops and fled the market for fear of being caught in the crossfire.
In a bid to arrest the situation, the state government announced that the market had been shut on Thursday.
Our correspondent observed that a police station at the market was attacked while vehicles parked at the station were vandalised. It was alleged that two people were shot and killed for attempting to burn the police station.
Speaking at the scene of the clash, Odude said, “We understand that at least two people were gunned down and there was an attempt to attack this police station and they quickly mobilised and we are salvaging the situation. The only thing I can tell you is that this morning there was supposed to be an arrest of those people who are selling by the roadside and in the process there was confrontation.”
The Secretary of the butchers union in the state, Alhaji Lateef Olagoke, who represented the chairman, Pa Lasisi Alagufon, at a press conference in the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, said he regretted the clash and the loss of lives and property in the market.
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