Sadness, joy as Uduaghan demolishes ‘Sodom’ in Warri

DO you remember the Biblical Sodom and Gomorrah that was destroyed by God with fire? A similar incident took place in the heart of Warri, Delta State, over the weekend, as the number one man of the state, Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan, through the Ministry of Environment, deployed bulldozers to evacuate and demolish shanties attached to Ogbe Ijoh Market near Warri main market.

The shanties and market were notorious for incessant fire outbreaks, year after year, with the last one occurring in January.

Previous undercover visits to this market by InsideNigerDelta revealed that it was a shrine where all sorts of criminal and immoral atrocities were committed.

Most disturbing scenario in this market was heavy presence of little children that were being raised in the ghetto where all moral codes, known to any sane African society, were relegated to the background.

Before the take-over of the fenced market, women of easy virtues, smokers and users of drugs such as marijuana, cocain and strong alcoholic drinks were main marketers. Their activities were intricately combined with gutter musics, regularly associated with such odd style of life.

There were also some people, including hoodlums, who converted the place to their stall to do petty trading and for a shelter. It was gathered that some elements,who seemingly “conquered” the territory, were milking money from users of the market, collecting as much as N20, 000 from interested occupants.

So, at Ogbe Ijoh Market, people of varied tribes from the North and South as well as the Ijaws abide there day and night. At night, it was usually a different ball game as ladies and young men would be seen milling into the market to catch ready fun with whatever proceeds they had garnered for the day.

InsideNigerDelta was reliably told that recipients of the amnesty programme formed the bulk of callers at the market where they engaged in alcohol, drug abuse and sexual immoralities.

Amid hues and cries from the dislodged traders and night crawlers, the state government has, however, contended, that it gave them enough time for them to leave the market.

The government, through the Commissioner for Environment, Mr Frank Omare, whose name now rings an ominous bell in Warri and environs for demolishing illegal structures, said it had sounded the warning several times that it wanted to upgrade the market to a modern taste.

As the edifice was abandoned, victims of floods, especially that of 2012, which swept off many Ijaw villages, found their way into the abandoned market for a temporary refuge. A school of thought said they were advised to relocate to the market by an Ijaw elder stateman in the wake of the deluge

Besides the various shades of business activities that began to take shape in the fenced market, including drug and sexual trades, the place also became the abode of criminal activities such as rape.

The stalls were converted into rooms, bars, toilets, bathrooms, kitchens, hair dressing salons, and all forms of petty trading. Children and delectable ladies milled around the place daily while young men take their turns to smoke, drink and engage in sexual perversion with gullible ladies amid blaring music in the bars and clubs.

Refuse littered everywhere behind the gigantic edifice just as the arena took up the gamute of no-man’s land.

Events such as Ladies Night, Bob Marley Day, Fela Day, Xmas celebrations were often organised in the open space of the market complex and during these programmes, as witnessed by this reporter on two occasions, Indian hemp, alcohol, cigarettes, cocaine and open sex went unhindered.

Dealers in the drugs, who were often young unsuspecting ladies, were hardly recognised as they had mastered their customers with codes. Children were usually seen relishing the salacious activities being pretreated.

Meanwhile, the bird has come to roost as the state government has defied all antics and protests by occupants of the market to demolish shanties built around the structure as well as clean up and chase away the illegal occupants.

The government affirmed that the evacuation of illegal structures in the market would enable it complete the remaining portion of the market with the hope of addressing the prevalence of illegal trading as well as the spate of criminal activities in the adjoining areas.

However, some of the affected traders, under the aegis of “Meinbutu-Ijaws of Warri,” are still complaining that their request for a longer period to evacuate their property before the evacuation exercise was rebuffed by the government.

An Ijaw leader, the Amanana-Owei of Meinbutu, King Jerry Prebor, pointed out that the occupants of the controversial market were not criminals, but law-abiding citizens who were just trying to eke out a leaving.

Be that as it may, residents of Warri, who said the evacuation exercise was long overdue, expressed their happiness that one of the remaining “Sodom and Gomorrah” in Warri and its environs had eventually been phased out.

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