By Albert Akpor
THE present situation at Igbokuta, a community in Ikorodu, Lagos is pathetic. The graphic picture of the entire community noted for its social and communal conviviality is now that of a desolate graveyard as men, women, children and even animals have fled the village for safety.
The warlike situation has been traced to the emergence and cruelty of land grabbers who invaded the hitherto peaceful community, selling the villagers’ ancestral lands and unleashing terror on who dared them.
Incidentally, the mother of the alleged leader of the assailants simply identified as Lai is a native of Igbokuta. In the ensuing hostility, a 27-year-old father of three identified as Azeez Ayeni Aliu, the son of a retired soldier who dared one of the assailants paid the supreme price; he was shot dead right at the village square and at the glare of his father. His corpse is still at the Lagos State Teaching Hospital mortuary.
Others who challenged the notoriety of the land grabbers were maimed, chased out of the the community and their houses pulled down. A pregnant woman and wife of one of the traditional rulers (names withheld) who, because of her position in the village, questioned the inhumanity of the land grabbers was reportedly dragged to a nearby bus path, stripped naked and serially raped by thugs hired to perpetrate the heinous act.
When Crime Guard visited the ravaged community amid caution, a handful of the fear- stricken villagers who mustered courage to come out of their hidings pointed accusing fingers at head of the police in the area who they say is acting the script of a Deputy Inspector-General of Police DIG ‘D’ department (now late) and beneficiary of the land grabbers.
They alleged that the Area Commander is always looking the other side when these land grabbers are wrecking havoc,
alleging the police boss got 10 acres of land at give away price from the said Lai. But the Area Commander has since debunked such allegation describing it as “baseless and frivolous”.
Further more, the villagers are also accusing a retired army personnel simply identified as Captain Ajas who they claimed got over 200 acres of land from the said land grabbers. They are alleging that the retired Captain was in the habit of invading the community with soldiers from the 147 Battalion, Odogunyan Barracks and sometimes, with men of the OPS MESA .
According to them, police complicity and rape of justice were aptly exhibited late this year after some innocent boys, four of them; were arrested by men of the OPS MESA allegedly brought in by the retired Captain Ajas and two locally made pistols were planted on them. The four innocent persons were whisked to Lagos and charged for illegal possession of fire arms and thereafter, dumped in Kirikiri.
Another area where the villagers are bitter with the police was when the said Lai allegedly shot dead Azeez last year. They claimed that he was arrested by detectives from the Zone 2 Command headquarters Onikan with the riffle with which he killed the man but was granted bail moments later until the entire community protested at the Lagos state government house. The protest match was said to have forced the Directorate of Public Prosecution DPP to order Lai’s re-arrest and prosecution for murder.
But again, and as if the said Lai was above the law, they claimed he was arraigned for murder and granted bail pending the determination of the murder charge. However, no sooner than he got his temporary freedom that he was reported to have stormed the village in the company of other hired thugs led by one ‘Sir K’ and resumed hostility on the hapless people.
Furthermore, the villagers are very angry with the police high command on the ground that Lai’s alleged partner -in -crime, ‘Sir K’ who was declared wanted by the Police Official Gazette No: CB: 2685/FHQ/ABJ/O90511 on allegations of murder was recently seen at the premises of the ‘Area N’ Command headquarters Ikorodu even with police escort. But the Area Commander again denied the allegation saying he was never aware that the said ‘Sir K’ was declared wanted.
And recently, when police detectives from the Special Investigation Unit SIU came all the way from Abuja for the arrest of Lai following a petition from the villagers, immediately he got to Abuja, the late DIG ‘D’ department ordered for his release on self recognition.
But a recent investigation revealed that the people seemed to have exhausted their patience and are actually ready to take their destinies in their hands. They have declared war against their tormentors as those who had fled are finding their ways back to town with a vow to fight back.
The acting head of the community (Baale), Chief Ayeni Aliu who in company of other battle-ready returnees, said they would no longer tolerate any further harassment and intimidation.
The Baale in an emotion laden voice said he was personally prepared to shed his blood for the return of peace since both the state and federal government have refused to harken to their cries. He traced the origin of the present calamity in Igbokuta to 2007 when he challenged the said Lai for recklessly selling their ancestral lands.
The retired soldier-turned preacher of Jesus Christ who also doubles as head of Ayeni family gave the genealogy of Igbokuta village as being made up of seven ruling families one of which the mother of the man allegedly perpetrating the mayhem belongs.
According to him, “This whole thing started in July 2007 when I challenged my cousin, Olayiwola Nosiru for recklessly selling our father land. He and his gang stormed the village, armed to the teeth threatening fire and brim stone. He threatened he was going to kill me if I dared stand on his way; but I told him he could not do anything.
Surprisingly, he dashed out and resurfaced with a rifle, pointed it at me and fired, but as a trained retired soldier, I dived and the bullet caught my son Azeez and he slumped. He died moments after on the way to the hospital. Another youth was caught in the eye by some pellets and the man is temporary blind as I talk to you now.
Igbokuta village is made up of seven ruling families; they are: the Oni family, the Ayeni family (where Lai’s mother comes from), the Bello family, the Oshiluye family, the Kuye family, the Jigan family and of course, the Shonaya family.
Olayiwola Nosiru who is wrecking this havoc is not from this place; it is his mother that comes from our family and he is my cousin. And that was why after he killed my son, he put his hands on his head shouting and lamenting, “Oh, I have killed my brother, oh, I have killed my brother”.
As I speak to you now, the remains of my son is still in the mortuary. After this murderous act, he was arrested by detectives from zone 2, and the rifle with which he killed my son was recovered. But the entire village was shocked when he was granted bail almost immediately. And he came directly to the village and boasted that he would wreck more havoc.
This is when we had to stage a protest match to governor’s office at Alausa, Ikeja during which the DPP was forced to recommend for his re-arrest and later arraignment for murder. He has sine been granted bail and the case is before Justice Onigbanjo of court 41; and for a year and half now, we have been going to court with no headway.
Since the matter is in court one would have expected that he would calm down but no, he is still wrecking more havoc. You can see that the village is a shadow of itself now. Men, women, the youths have all fled. He came here shooting recklessly and killing our animals; as you can see now, there is no single goat, no fowl, nothing.
They pulled down houses and broke open some whose occupants had fled for safety. Four of our our boys were arrested in their rooms by some policemen with the inscription MOPOL 22 on their van on flimsy excuse that they were in possession of fire arms, whereas, it was the policemen that planted the same guns on them. As I talk now, those boys are languishing in Kirikiri.
On several occasions, I personally called Lai because like I told you, he is my cousin; that there is nothing wrong in living in one’s mother’s village if he has issues in his father’s community and that you don’t do this by causing untold hardship to your kinsmen.
He has a particular friend named Lamino Kamorudeen alias ‘Sir K’ with whom he is ravaging our community and I think they are above the law; otherwise, the said ‘Sir K’ was recently declared want by the Inspector-General of Police on Police Official Gazette No: CB: 2685/FHQ/ABJ/090511 but he was seen all over Ikorodu town even with police escort. So how do you reconcile that?
It is on this strength that I had to come back home and started calling on all my people that had fled the community to come back and let us salvage our community together. We are battle ready since both the state and federal government have refused to hear our cries. We have written several petitions to the IGP but nothing meaningful has come out of it.
Perhaps it was one of those petitions that provoked the IGP to order for the arrest of ‘Sir K’ and declared him wanted in their official gazette. But he was recently at the Area ‘N’ Command, Ikorodu together with his friend Lai when detectives from Abuja came for him. You will not believe that at Abuja, the late DIG ‘D’ Department whose office declared ‘Sir K’ wanted and requested for Lai as a result of our petition granted him bail that same day.
This is why we are saying we have no hope than to fight for ourselves. In fairness, Governor Fashola responded positively at the heat of the hostility last year but I think his hands are tied now because these men seemed to have assumed the status of sacred cows. We need justice but since it has eluded us, we are ready to take our destinies in our hands. Lai and his men cannot kill all of us in one day; surely some people will be alive to tell the story of how our village was wiped out.”