The Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR) embarked on a peaceful protest to demonstrate their disagreement with the recent call to action made by the Governor of Lagos State, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode to start, with full force, the implementation of the street trading and illegal market law made in 2003 that sees to the banning of street trading in Lagos state or both buyers and sellers will pay the fine of N9,000 or face six months imprisonment.
The protest that was led by the Lagos State Branch Chairman of CDHR, Mr. Alex Omotehinse took off from Ikeja Local Government Secretariat to the Lagos State House of Assembly in a peaceful and orderly manner to express their dissatisfaction with the situation, and submit a petition for the Honorable members of the House to review the law banning street trading.
Addressing members of Lagos State CDHR from every unit and voluntary members of the society who joined in the demonstration, Mr. Omotehinse briefed them that the street trading law does not support the masses who are striving hard to find source of livelihood and survival through selling petty items during traffics and the Governor should provide an alternative that will not be too costly for the traders to get unlike the Tejuosho and New Alade Market which are too expensive for the traders to rent. He said, “The protest was ignited by the pronouncement of Governor Ambode on the full enforcement of the law of banning of street trading on July 1 and between then and now more than 250 people have been arrested and detained. This is a government who has never provided employment for the people and what they are doing now is to clamp down on ordinary Lagosians who are hustling to earn a living. CDHR is saying no to this and if you are going to send them away from the streets, it’s better to make an alternative for them”.
“Those who are selling goods in the traffic could not afford ninety thousand, if they can afford it they will not be on the street of Lagos hawking goods but they will be in a comfortable shop selling their goods," he added.
Also addressing the crowd, Mr. Samuel Adeola who was present at the protest revealed that the law was released abruptly and it will reduce the purchasing power of the masses. "The law has been laying fallow before Governor Ambode came into power. Nigerians value money more than the lives of the Nigerians and our government only cares about their pocket. How come Governor Ambode will want to enforce a law that is so Draconic to the point of muscling the purchasing power of the masses?” he said.
Speaking to the representatives of Lagos State Assembly, Mr. Omotehinse made known the annoyance of CDHR to the law that bans street trading and illegal market tagging it as unpopular because the law has more disadvantages on the masses and called for the review because it as anti-people law through a petition which was written and submitted to the state House of Assembly and also encouraged the governor to see to the security issue in the state, he said “we are at the Lagos State House of Assembly to show our displeasure to one of the obnoxious laws in Lagos State, the law of street trading and illegal market, 2003, and this law is unpopular because people disobey the law due to the fact that the disadvantages are more than the advantages. The law has been in silence since the regime of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the enforcement has been very minimal."
Mr. Omotehinse speaking further said, “Because we believe in this house that is why we are calling to submit our petition and proposal to the speaker, that we want immediate and urgent review and amendment of that law because it is against the poor. On behalf of the members and executive of CDHR. The lack of concern for the masses and the non-performance of social responsibility by Governor Ambode led the Lagos State branch of CDHR demand immediate review of the street trading and illegal market law of 2003. More than 250 traders are languishing in prisons in Lagos as a result of the law whereas the government can attend to other pressing issues in the state like the killing in Ikorodu and Igando areas of Lagos State.
Honorable Segun Olulade, representing Epe Constituency 2, received the petition letter on behalf of the Speaker of the House because the State House of Assembly is on recess. Mr. Olulade while collecting the petition encouraged the gathering that there is a process of making and amending law and CDHR has made a legal means in submitting the petition which would make the House look into the law for review. He said, “I know that what CDHR stands for is to uphold the constitution of Nigeria. Once we have a law in place, that law is expected to be executed by the members of the executive. If a law is not in accordance with the constitution, it is the right of the public to go to court. The process of amending law is clearly stated in our own constitution and coming to submit this letter will make us look into it again."
Honorable Agunbiade, Majority Leader of the State House of Assembly who was also present as at the time the petition was received said, “There is a particular process for making and amending a law. You have to come with a petition and it will be presented to the House. Nowhere in the world can you say a law is perfect that is why there are mechanisms in place to amend a law but the only body that can make, amend,and repeal a law is the House of Assembly. That is why you have brought your petition to us." Mr. Agunbiade added that a diverse group will look into the law to reach a conclusion on whether it needs to be amended.
Mr. Agunbiade encouraged the gathering to attend public hearing where laws are being decided upon before they are agreed to become a law, "Democracy is going on in Nigeria and wherever you see public hearing adverts, endeavor to come and make contribution as we make Nigeria a government of the people, by the people and for the people."