Landowner petitions Nigerian Army Commander and Commissioner of Police after soldiers brutalized builders over land dispute
A landowner from Awowaya area in Ajah, Lagos State, Alhaji Alatoye Folorunso Azeez petitioned the State Commissioner of Police and General Officer Commanding Division 81 regarding the invasion by soldiers at his construction site and the subsequent harassment of the workers.
The motion was filed by BADR M. B & CO and addressed to the two senior officers on February 21 and March 2 respectively.
According to the petitions, a Mrs. Edith Ude who claimed to have acquired a large plot of land in the area engaged the services of military officers to harass, embarrass and intimidate citizens in the environment.
However, the traditional landowners countered his claim, stating that neither Ude nor any Major General acquired any land from them (the landowners).
It has been established that on February 12, military officers in large numbers invaded the construction site of Alhaji Azeez and arrested workers, took them to Ude’s house and brutalized them.
This was after soldiers allegedly pulled down the building’s fence measuring about 2,160 feet on one side.
The first request to the Commissioner of Police stated: “On Saturday, February 12, 2022, workers hired by our client on his six acres of acquired land to work were already on site early that morning (February 12, 2022) when suddenly officers numbering about seven (7) in military camouflage uniforms drove a military van bearing the registration number DHQ-239 and led them out of the field to the apartment of the said Mrs. Edith Ude, falsely imprisoned them in order to torture and beat them mercilessly black on blue without indicating what offense they have committed.
“The matter was subsequently reported to the Camp Bonny Military Police Office, Ikoyi where three Military Police accompanied our client to the Godwin Estate residence of Mrs. Edith Ude on Sunday February 13, 2022.
“It was at his private Godwin estate that the license plate of said van was discovered attached to the office of the Garrison Commander, Defense Headquarters Abuja; therefore, a petition has been submitted to GOC Division 81, Bonny Camp.
“Our client has reliably informed us that Nigerian Army officers are still stationed in the field, preventing our client and his workers from working in the field without any lawful order from a competent court.
“With the greatest respect sir, no individual is constitutionally more important or more Nigerian than another, we have taken the course of the law to ensure that violence is not encouraged, no one has the monopoly of violence!
“If this affront continues unabated despite our petition, we will have no choice but to return the anarchy they propose with anarchy!”
“Our demand: On behalf of our client, we demand a thorough investigation into this unfortunate incident and the culprit, Mrs. Edith Ude, and all military officers she uses, be brought to justice.
“Until we end oppressive tendencies together because of the advantages we have over some others, this country will never develop.
“It is another request from our client that appropriate disciplinary action be recommended for offending officers when found guilty, otherwise the community itself may rise up against this unholy encroachment.”
A second petition to GOC 81 Division identified the offending officers’ names as Brig. General Odunukwe, Colonel Preye Fakrogha, Lieutenant Godwin, the general staff. Sergeants Kefas and Oscar among others.
According to the petition, officers who were warned by a court to refrain from getting involved in land matters recently ordered Ude to go and erect a Godwill Estate Association sign on the land and torture anyone who got in the way. would find there.
The officers also reportedly permanently stationed men in military uniforms on the land claiming to be protecting the land on behalf of a Godwill real estate association despite the land being the subject of litigation in Case No. LD/238/ 2013.
He added: “There was not much that could be done with the complaint lodged at the Bonny Camp Military Police office due to the status of the officers involved.
“That an interim court injunction was granted against these officers on June 14, 2013, that the officers have ignored the court order to this day.
“The officers continued to claim that they had purchased around 140 hectares of land with only N25,000,000.00 (twenty-five million naira) without proof.
“While our client who only bought six acres at N10,800,000.00 (ten million eight hundred thousand naira) with proof.
“Our request: Immediate withdrawal of the agents stationed on the ground of our Client. Removal of the Sign erected on our Client’s property. Payment for our Customer’s destroyed property. Paying the tortured workers’ hospital bill.”