By James Ogunnaike
THE Baale of Fowowawo in Obafemi Owode Local Government Area of Ogun State, Chief Waheed Muraino, has raised the alarm that some individuals, whom he described as land grabbers are using military personnel to terrorise his community.
Chief Muraino said the Naval personnel had on different occasions brutalised members of his community, saying they had succeeded in making Fowowawo a desolate community.
According to him, series of petitions have been written to the Nigerian Navy, the Defence Headquarters, Abuja, the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and the Ogun State Police Command; arguing that the invasion of his community is yet to be addressed by the concerned authorities.
In a petition addressed to the Flag Officer Commanding, Western Naval Command, Harbour Road, Apapa, Lagos, on January 29, 2021, Chief Muriano, through his Counsel, Olamide Osumah of Peachtree Solicitors, claimed that some members of the Ogunleye family have been employing the services of soldiers to trespass on his land in Fowowawo, near Magbon Etido.
The community leader said he had obtained a judgement on the said land against the Ogunleye family in 2015, saying “they (the Ogunleyes) are now being aided by soldiers, who brutalise and kidnap his people to give them forcible entry into the land.”
In another letter to the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Ministry of Defence on May 4, 2021, the Baale alleged that Naval ratings under their Commandant, Ofem Ubi, stationed at Arepo, had on May 1 “invaded the village and abducted three people, namely, Mutiu Adenekan, Michael Adio Sotinoye and Fatai Sultan; and they were locked up in a container in the forest.”
According to him, one of the three arrested persons, Mutiu Adenekan, was released with instructions that he should go and “inform the rest of the villagers to vacate the village and not to ever come back to the village again.”
Muraino said: “The village is now empty, everybody has fled. I fled too to save my life. destroyed because of dredging.
“One of my brothers, Michael, was taken away by the soldiers. They poured petrol in his ears. He spent 12 days in their custody before they released him. He later lost memory and became very sick. We took him to the hospital, but he eventually died.
“Another one, Seyi Sodipo, was released after he spent seven days in Apapa. You need to see how he was seriously brutalised.
“Many have been injured by these people. We can no longer enter our village. That is why we are calling on Governor Dapo Abiodun, the police, human right activists and all Nigerians to come to our rescue.
“We are the original owners of this land in dispute and the court has affirmed that. If all I have said is not true; let the government and all Nigerians sue me for making false allegations.”
We have no link with Naval personnel—Ogunleye family
In its defence, a member of the accused family, Mr. Sufi Taiwo Ogunleye, denied the allegations, saying “the family has no link with any Naval personnel.”
Taiwo said Chief Muraino should be blamed for everything that happened in the community.
We’re aware of petition—Ogun Police
When contacted, the Ogun State Police Public Relations Officer, Abimbola Oyeyemi, confirmed that the police is aware of the petition by Muriano, saying that investigation has commenced into the allegations.
Oyeyemi said: “He has written a petition to the police and the case has been assigned to the State CID, and I believe the State CID is on it.
“We have even invited them, but the other party sent their lawyer the day they were supposed to meet, seeking for an extension of time. The state CID is investigating the case.”