First established on March 5, 1970, the story of the popular Ajegunle Cemetery Market in Ajeromi Ifelodun Local Government axis of Lagos sounds like a mystery to Lagosians including residents of the community who throng the market to buy goods.
While many residents find it hard to believe, some others shrug it off that it’s a myth and that a market place can’t be built on a burial ground.
This assertion necessitied the investigations by InsideMainland on the true story of the Cemetery Market in Ajegunle located just a few meters from the Ajeromi Ifelodun Local Government secretariat.
Speaking to the Iya Oja of the Cemetery Market, Alhaja Risikat Raheem, she told InsideMainland that “the market was formerly a burial ground dedicated specially to bury corpse of residents and other interested families who desire to have the place as the final resting place for their deceased ones.”
“During these period, the area was still under the control of Badagry Local Government who were the ones saddled with apportioning spaces and spots for the deceased to be buried” , she continued.
Interestingly, the burial ground have to give way for a market to be constructed when the need became urgent. “We had no place to serve as connecting spot for residents and other revelers. Back then, people usually sell wares in front of their houses or do house to house selling. It was a bit difficult for those who were new in the community and those that couldn’t get what they wanted from the ones displayed in front of the houses,” Alhaja Risikat said.
“It was the foresight of Alhaji Lawal Akano and Alhaja Raliatu Aro to enter into a discussion with the government authorities to initiate the move to erect a market in the community,” she added.
InsideMainland learnt that the search for a bigger and central place to erect the market commenced and it was agreed to dug out corpses from the cemetery to construct a market. “The process was tedious at first but that was when the first block for the market was installed. We later constructed the market with the support of residents and the place became the first market constructed with blocks in Ajegunle,” Alhaja Risikat revealed.
While corroborating the Iya Oja, the secretary of the Ajegunle Cemetery Market Association, Deacon Banji Ogunsola said fortunes of the stall owners in the market changed in the early 90s following neglect from the government to upgrade the market. “The market is now in a shadow of itself and needed rehabilitation. We made efforts to reach out to the government to ensure she place fits into the demands of the modern era but we are yet to make any headway.”
When asked on the last construction work done on the market, he said, “since the market was remodelled under the Lateef Jakande era, no form of rehabilitation has been done till then.”
Reports however have it that the fate of stall owners in the market took another turn when parts of the market was demolished by the former Chairman of Ajeromi Ifelodun Local Government, Mr. Kamal Bayeku.
Commenting on this, Alhaja Risikat said “the market, bathrooms, car park, stalls and the shades were demolished with promises to construct an ultra modern market. After the demolition, we uncovered reports that the local government plan to remove us from here. We proceeded to the Governors office to make complaints and Governor Babatunde Fashola stopped the process.”
Presently, the market though in a shadow of itself is still the oldest in the Ajegunle community.