People usually say and acknowledge that Lagos is not for the faint of heart. You must be brave, ambitious, and most importantly, street-smart to survive in the city.
Until you have these attributes, you can’t thrive in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial city, where random individuals yell at you for no reason, and everyone walks as if they are being pursued.
While being street savvy is helpful in any area of the world, doing so in Lagos will spare you from crying, especially if you visit the city’s commercial hubs. These areas are not for the faint of heart.
Billions of naira cross hands every day in Lagos open markets. However, most of these cash transactions result in preventable losses and regrets for first-time customers, who are often victims of savvy but unscrupulous vendors in the state.
There have been stories of cheap rip-offs, from Alaba International Market to Alaba-Rago in Ojo, Auto Parts Market, Ladipo, Mushin, and Oshodi, all the way down to the popular Idumota and Balogun markets on the Island.
These markets now invoke a disturbing idea of deception and distrust in many people.
Here are 5 Lagos commercial hubs not for the faint of heart.
1. Computer Village
The Computer Village is an ICT accessories market in Ikeja, and the market is Africa’s largest for ICT products. The market also offers mobile phone and computer repairs.
However, apart from being a hotspot for gadgets, Computer Village is also notorious for being the headquarters of con artists on the lookout for their next victim.
Over the years, we’ve seen and heard stories of people going to the market with high aspirations of acquiring goods, only to be duped.
There is a handful of scams to be aware of when visiting Computer Village. Here are some:
Bait and switch
This is a tried-and-true method. The con artist gives a potential consumer a phone to check out, and if the customer likes it, he would pay for it.
The merchant then requests that the customer returns the phone in “appropriate wrapping.” The seller then replaces the phone with a counterfeit.
Notes in Fake Naira
Never purchase a device from someone who does not own a store. Many people who offer to sell you a gadget for an absurdly low price do so with bad motives.
A social media user told his story about how a man in the Computer Village offered him an iPhone for a very low price.
The seller then changed his mind and requested the phone, promising to reimburse him for his money. But instead of returning the cash, the seller returned a look-alike ward of money.
The unsuspecting buyer took the phoney cash, but it wasn’t until he went to count it that he realised he was given shredded papers wrapped around one thousand naira (N500 denomination) notes.
Given the high rate of phone theft, people always request a receipt when purchasing a phone at the market following the growing arrests of innocent people in possession of stolen phones.
Most used phones sold in Computer Village are often stolen, but many customers are not aware of this, so they buy innocently only to land in trouble when the real owners tract the device to them.
So, if a phone doesn’t have a receipt, don’t buy it, especially if it’s a secondhand phone, no matter how sleek or cheap it is.
Pickpockets are rampant in the market
Computer Village is a bustling, diverse environment. So, as you make your way through the crowd, keep an eye on your valuables. Also, don’t become too distracted if you go inside a store to inquire about something.
The trick is to have your purse or wallet grabbed once they detect you are preoccupied.
2. Alaba International Market
The Alaba International Market is a Nigerian electronics market in Ojo, Lagos State.
A consumer can obtain anything he wants at the Alaba International Market, from electronics and electrical gadgets to fine furnishings, building materials, home appliances, cosmetics, machinery, and heavy equipment.
You can acquire things very cheaply in the market and sell them for twice the cost price. Due to this reason, the market has grown to be seen as a location of immense opportunity by the thousands of customers who visit it every day from all across Nigeria and beyond.
It has made conscientious, resourceful people successful and those who have thrown caution to the wind.
A first-time consumer who goes to the market to buy without the assistance of a trusted market employee is likely to have a negative experience.
Over 90% of people who go to the market for the first time end up with less than they bargained for.
Onyema Ohuka, a Lagos resident, attempted to buy a 32-inch television and was duped by a cartel that specialised in selling damaged televisions as non-tested electronic products.
He shared his experience of how the cartel’s boss approached him and convinced him to come and inspect their new supply of TV sets that had just arrived from overseas.
According to the victim, the trader promised to give him the best of his favoured TV brand, so he followed him to their open arena and chose one of the untested TV sets, hoping that he could fix it for a reasonable price.
“We agreed to N35,000 for the LED TV set wrapped in a transparent nylon. After I paid, he asked one of his boys to take me to a TV technician for testing and possible repairs.
“It was the technician that confirmed that the screen was damaged and that I would spend as much money to change the damaged screen as to buying another fairly-used TV. He advised me to return it for possible replacement.
“When I returned it, I was asked to make the money up to N45,000 for another set. I agreed but I was eventually given another TV set with poor visual quality.
“I rejected it, but they refused to refund my money. After much disagreement, the trader asked me to come back in a week’s time when new stock would be available for possible replacement.
“Afraid I might lose my money; I decided to take the TV set with poor visual quality. Less than two months later, the screen went bad. I could not get any technician to fix it,” Onyema narrated.
3. Idumota Market
Idumota Market, often known as “Eko,” is a market located on Lagos Island, a Lagos State neighbourhood and local government district.
It is one of West Africa’s oldest and largest markets, with thousands of lock-up businesses filling various structures across the market.
There are many imported goods in Idumota, ranging from clothing, accessories, electronics, pharmaceuticals, and food and drinks goods.
However, it is also a commercial hub in Lagos that is not for the faint of heart. From fake goods being sold to duplicitous objectives of street hooligans wandering the streets of the market and pickpockets, making the market not a place to “loose guard”.
Odinaka Lawson, narrated his experience with fraudsters who go about organising raffle draws in which nobody can win.
He recounted, “I was duped N3, 000. Someone walked up to me and told me that the government is doing a promo, he even showed me the inscription on the bus.
“He gave me a card to scratch and anything I find is what I will win. I did and it was a television set. He took me to the bus, where his other gang members were and I was then asked to pay N3, 000 to collect it. I did and he told me that I would have to pay an additional N2, 000, which I refused.
“I then asked him to give my money back to me. Immediately, they gathered together and asked me to leave if I like my life.
“What gave me the boldness to play in the first place was because of the ‘govt approved’ inscription I saw on the bus. This is criminality.”
4. Yaba Market
Yaba market is notorious for many things like the mallams who are at the entryway and always under the impression that you are looking to exchange naira for dollars.
Secondly, the traders grab any passerby that is making an entrance into the market regardless of whether they want to buy their wares.
Thirdly, prices are not negotiable. The harsh tongue of Yaba traders is well-known. They’ll smile and ask you to state your price for their goods, and if you say something below their expectation, they’ll curse you.
Lastly, there are the Yaba affiliates traders, who never have any stock but spend their time looking for customers to take to those they have deals in inflating the price of goods and earning up to 30% commission in some circumstances.
These traders call every female that passes silly pet names, from my colour, my type, Agbani, Genevieve, etc.
They also presume that every girl is a University of Lagos student, even if you look elderly.
They keep promising you student prices if you shop with them or how you will look nice if you wear a particular dress to school.
5. Mushin Market
Mushin Market is one of Lagos’s main markets. It features categories for foods, beverages, herbal products, and other items.
It’s a bustling area that’s easily accessible from Surulere and Oshodi on opposing sides. Because the market is typically crowdy, it is critical to hold on to your belongings as securely as possible.
Much notoriety has been reported in the Mushin market, especially the selling of adulterated consumables.
In April 2018, the Police apprehended Benjamin Ojukwu, a bogus wine salesman at the Mushin’s famed Ojuwoye market. Ojukwu confessed that he learned how to brew wine and spirits in China.
The suspect said “I was in China to learn how to mix and produce wines and hot drinks and when I got back to Nigeria in 2015, I started my own business in Nnewi, Anambra state. I had to relocate to Lagos to start afresh when my factory got burnt.”
According to reports, Ojukwu admitted to replacing branded bottles with his own products so that customers would patronise him until he could advertise his own brand.