Lagos task forces: The brigandry of a police state
A democratic society should rely purely on the rule of law and its processes at achieving peaceful co-existence among its component parties!
Nigeria is of course a country in practice of Constitutional Democracy on paper! Our reality speaks to the contrary!
Recently, in order to redeem the integrity of the police force, the new IGP Mr Kayode Egbetokun took the decision to withdraw all mobile police-men attached to VIPs!
The police before now had been so abused that some have become mere bag carriers for our oga madams as we call them!
Others are family errands men, in some cases these attached officers serve as bullies for their pay masters!
Lagos is the worst hit of all the states, where in a bid to fast-track enforcement, task forces are set up!
This, however, has proven to be counterproductive, a country that is under-policed is forced to pull out of the limited number of its officers to serve the special needs of the state on tasks considered special!
Truth be told, most task force operations are easy access to money and officers will do anything to head or be selected to be on the task force!
The existence of tasks force has made accountability of the Force on its men and officers difficult!
Officers attached to Tasks force, in some cases are ready and available tool of harassment for those who can afford to pay for such illegalities! As they are not easily traceable to a Police station, area and command of the police where such nefarious activities are carried out.
There is the BRT track monitoring task force operating in manners that suggest that they are given a certain amount to deliver on a daily basis. “Offenders” are at the mercy of these contractors. Against the practice in the civilized state of a computerized camera system.
Task force is the only way for Governors to have loyalty and control of police officers who by the infraction of our constitution are compelled to be loyal to the IGP and consequently the President.
Akinwunmi Ambode as Governor of Lagos State, gave attention to the issue of land grabbers and set up a task force to that effect.
One would have thought that its existence would curb the menace of Land grabbing, but a new twist is the brigandry of “Federal Police” disarming “State police” over land disputes!
I use the word Federal and State in context of the drama at 37A Ajisafe Street, Ikeja GRA, where a police team claiming to be acting on the order of the IGP came to disarm officers of Nigerian police on security duty!
A complaint written by FESTUS IGHAGBON & CO. Dated 2nd of August, 2023, a firm of Barristers, Solicitors, Corporate & Property Consultants, was haplessly addressed as follows:
Department of State Services,
Ikoyi, 31, Kingsway Road.
According to the petition entitled “Complaint against Al-Trade Agencies Limited, Messrs Julius Eshiet, Yemi Balogun, and some others yet unknown for forgery and intimidation“, it became necessary as a result of the confusion occasioned by police against police in their unfortunate frustrations!
The compliant reads:
“We refer to the above-mentioned matter as we write as Solicitors to Viagem Property and Investment limited ‘our client.’ We are aware that our client is the bona fide owner of a landed property situate and lying at No. 37A Ajisafe Street, Ikeja G.R.A. Lagos State.
The said property was purchased from Western Metal Productions Company Limited under the supervision of Access Bank Plc to which it was hitherto mortgaged as a collateral.
The history of the property and ownership dates back to 1962 when it was first assigned to Nigerian Enamel-ware Company Plc by the defunct Western Region Government.
So, the property was assigned to Nigerian Enamel-ware Company Plc who in turn assigned same to Western Metal Productions Company Limited (Wemco). Wemco eventually assigned it to our client. All the parties mentioned have been in possession and are still in possession till date!
The property is purely under Lagos State Government which duly granted consent to the parties up to our client in the year 2019!
The various documents of title are herein enclosed and marked as documents 1, 2, and 3.
Our client’s own is registered as 76/76/2625 and dated July, 2019, being the latest!
Sometimes in the year 2021, the above named persons i.e. Al-trade Agencies Limited, Julius Eshiet, Yemi Balogun and some other unknown persons started to parade the vicinity of the property and made several attempts to invade the property with the aid of some fierce-looking men to take forceful possession of the property.
Their attempts were warded off and this made them resort to Lágos State Task Force under the chairmanship of Shola Jeje Oloye!
The said chairman invited the parties to his office with their relevant documents of title. He dismissed them when he noticed that they are fraudsters. They procured the possession of same. They were warded off. Next, they complained to the Commandant of MOPOL 20, Oduduwa Street, Ikeja, who, having gone through their forged documents, dismissed them. They went back to the site and attempted to abduct the security men thereon but failed. Still in the bid to achieve their nefarious purpose, they complained to Lagos State Task Force on Land Grabbers and later abandoned the case.
Sometimes in July, 2023, our client commissioned some workers to clear the site and demolish the dilapidated buildings thereon, they attempted to abduct the workers but were frustrated by them. They therefore went to lodge false complaints to lkeja Police Division who came to the site and arrested the workers and occupants found thereon. They were subsequently released on bail.
As the investigation was ongoing, they abandoned the case and lodged further false complaint to the A.I.G. Office, Alagbon under the Escort Unit!
The officers came to the site and arrested everybody found thereon numbering about 15 persons. In the midst of the confusion that ensued, some fierce-looking men suspected to be thugs, but claimed to be members of the dreaded O.P.C., invaded the property and attempted to take possession and cause mayhem but were promptly arrested and taken to Ikeja Police Station. They were there and then released on the orders of officers from A.l.G. Alagbon’s office.
As at the time of this petition, the suspects and their faceless men are still lurking around the property waiting for the slightest opportunity to cause havoc!
All the relevant documents supporting the allegations are herewith enclosed including a copy of the Lagos State Government permit to demolish the property which is marked document 4!
Since the Federal Government does not have landed property within the vicinity of the property in question, we highly suspect that the C of O registered as No. 17/17/263 Federal Lands Registry dated 16th October, 2021, which they are parading about, is fake and forged and the persons behind it should be unraveled!
The address used for the company is NO. 6, Adele Street, Apapa, Lagos while the phone number of Yemi Balogun is 08033891073. This is because we don’t have their fixed address.
We therefore appeal to the good offices of the Director of the DSS to use their offices to track down the suspects and their cohorts before they commit mayhem!
If they have an actionable case, they ought to know where to go rather than using force and intimidation!
The petition was signed by Festus p. lghagbon, Esq. for and on behalf of Festus lghagbon & Co.
The Assistant Director, Department of State Services, was also copied.
The drama of police against police, I hope is not now being upgraded to DSS against Nigerian police by a frustrated Lagosian in his desperation to keep possession of his property! Will you blame him?
When land grabbers opt for a quick fix approach and the civility of referring them to the judiciary process is intercepted by some police officers in hope of gain, then we are heading for a state of anarchy!
A call to the number of Yemi Balogun for his side of the story was picked, I introduced myself but once I mentioned the address of the property, an uncomfortable tone intercepted me and claimed he is not interested in my enquiry and cut the call rudely.
Even at the risk of system failure, it is important that failure is properly defined and apportioned so we know where to lay the blame and which system to up to serve the greater good of Nigeria!
The parties involved in this drama should know that the reasonable thing to do is go to court!
The attention of His Excellency, the Governor of Lagos should be called to this, same for that of the IGP and the Director of Department State Services, Mr Yusuf Magaji Bichi.
Mr Nuhu Ribadu, Special Adviser to the President on National Security, needs to help us notify Mr President that the DSS is being pitched against Nigerian Police at his backyard in Lagos!
He may need to act fast to restore confidence in the Judiciary System and refrain security agencies from meddling in cases where they lack constitutional jurisdiction before the peaceful serenity of GRA, Ikeja is turned into a needless battle ground!
Dr Bolaji O. Akinyemi is an Apostle and Nation Builder, Convener Apostolic Round Table, ART. Also the BOT Chairman Project Victory Call Initiative, AKA, PVC-Naija; firstname.lastname@example.org; 08033041236.