By Chris Onuoha
Inspector General of Police (IG), Mohammed Abubakar Adamu, has raised a team to look into the claim by a Lagos based firm that the AIG in Charge of Zone 2, Lawal Shehu, is taking sides on a disputed landed property in which it has interest.
Sunday Vanguard learnt that the team, which arrived Lagos on Thursday, visited the disputed land, located at Plot 29 Block 6 and Plot 15 Block 6, Foreshore Estate, Ikoyi, Lagos, and later met with the AIG and all the parties involved in the case.
Sunnyvale Nigeria Limited had, in a letter, dated March 9, 2019, triggered the investigation when it alleged that Shehu had been using the police to frustrate the decision of a court favourable to it in the matter.
Meanwhile, the Public Relations Officer for Zone 2, Dolapo Badmus, in a response on behalf of the AIG, said her boss deployed policemen to the site to prevent the breakdown of law and order, denying the claim that the police were acting on behalf of any party to the dispute.
It was not clear how the meeting the IG team had with the AIG and the parties in the dispute went but a top police source said the mere fact of Adamu’s intervention means that the authorities will do the right thing.
The petition to the IG, signed by Sunnyvale Nigeria Limited’s lawyer, Olayinka Sanni, and copied to Official in Charge of Legal (OC Legal), Force Headquarters, Abuja, had read, in part: “We act as solicitors to Sunnyvale Nigeria Limited hereinafter refer to as our client and we have its authority to write this letter.
“Our client is the 3rd Applicant/Respondent in Appeal No. CA/L/653/2015. Being dissatisfied with the judgment delivered on the 6th of March, 2019, our client, acting within her constitutional right, appealed to the Supreme Court and same is yet to be fixed for hearing.
“However, the other party to the case, Mr. Lai Ajayi Bembe, without the necessary writ of execution, forcefully entered into our client land and ably assisted by a team of policemen from Zone 2, Onikan, Lagos. Attached for your perusal is the picture of policemen deployed by the AIG Zone 2 without referring to his OC Legal Zone 2 for proper legal advice.
“Please note that it is trite law that once an appeal is lodged in a matter, parties are bound to maintain status quo so as not to jeopardize the efforts of the court. It is unlawful and condemnable to forcefully take possession without obtaining the necessary writ of possession. In Government of Gongola State Vs Tukur (1989) LPELR-1335 (SC) Per Obaseki JSC, ‘a stay of execution only prevents the plaintiffs or beneficiary of the judgment or order from putting into operation the machinery of the law the legal process of warrants of execution and so forth’. The police are equally enjoined to follow due process and not to interpret the law to justify a wrong act. The AIG Zone 2’s act of enforcing a judgment already before the Supreme Court is condemnable and a deliberate act to frustrate the court.
“Our client will however resist all attempts to trample on its rights and we intend to let the IG know the collaboration of policemen in the forceful occupation of our client’s property”.
In a written response to Sunday Vanguard, on Friday, the office of the AIG, speaking through the Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Zone 2, CSP Dolapo Badmus, said her boss was acting in good faith by sending his men to the site to prevent breakdown of law and order.
“It has come to our notice, the purported letter written by the complainant alleging that the AIG commanded his men to forcefully occupy a property at Plot 15, 19 Foreshore Estate, Ikoyi. The AIG deemed it necessary to prevent further confrontation and breakdown of law and order from the aggrieved party having noticed that similar incident occurred in the past. The presence of the policemen at the premises is in order to maintain peace pending the outcome of the suit filed at the Supreme Court of Nigeria by SunnyVille Company. We have implore the two parties to maintain peace until the apex court decides the rightful owner of the property,” Badmus said.