Family accuses police of aiding developer to demolish structures

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Oluwatobi Akindele

A Lagos family has accused operatives of the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad of aiding a developer to demolish some structures.

The structures were said to be located in Sangotedo, Ajah, in the Eti-Osa Local Government Area of Lagos.

PUNCH Metro gathered that the Oyemade family, under the Oyetubo Jokotade Estate Resources Limited, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with a company owned by the developer, CMB Building Maintenance and Investment Company, in March 2003.

The family had allocated some hectares of land to the developer’s company from which an estate – Pearl Gardens Estate – was developed.

The developer, Kelechukuwu Mbagwu, allegedly encroached on plots of land not covered by the MoU and allegedly demolished buildings on it with the help of the F-SARS operatives.

The lawyer representing the family, Tunde Popoola, said Mbagwu had no right to demolish the buildings.

He said, “The land in question has been allocated to different members of the public by Oyetubo Jokotade Estate Resources Limited and they have started construction on it.

“Unfortunately, on the night of August 19 into 20, 2018, Mbagwu sent his staff in company with SARS operatives to invade the land with bulldozers and demolished all structures on the land spanning about 74 plots. Based on the account of the eyewitnesses around, the armed F-SARS operatives wore shirts with the inscription, ‘Scorpion’ and they were about 50 in number.

“There is no order of court that permits him to do so. Where there is law and order, there is no individual that can take the law into their own hands and demolish other people’s property.”

The law practitioner said it took the intervention of the police from the Area J Command before the family could have access to the said  land.

“On Monday when we got wind of the development, some members of the family came to access the extent of the damage. Before they knew it, SARS operatives came from nowhere and started shooting. Mobile policemen were also stationed to monitor the area to chase away legitimate land owners.

“On Tuesday, we had to write a petition to the Area J Command explaining what happened. On Thursday, some policemen from Area J Command accompanied us to the place and that was the first day we were able to access the place after the demolition,” he said.

The head of the Oyemade family, Tajudeen Ajenifuja, said the family wanted justice.

The 76-year-old said, “We want Lagos State to assist us to get justice. All I need is justice.”

One of the landowners whose buildings were demolished, Chima Duru, said he followed due process in purchasing it.

He said, “It is wickedness for anyone to do such a thing. I already made an access road to my plots of land. I had built a storehouse and a fence, mounted a gate and drilled a borehole. My wife was hospitalised upon hearing the news of the demolition.”

When CMB Building Maintenance and Investment Company was contacted, the Head of Corporate Communications, Abiola Ogunrinde, refuted the allegations.

She said, “I am aware of the news being spread that there was a demolition. But CMB never destroyed anybody’s structure or building whatsoever. CMB purchased five hectares of land which is a proposed site for Pearl Garden Extension and it was paid for. You know how these land grabbers are. When you purchase land and you do not build on it fast, they try reselling it to other people.”

The Police Public Relations Officer, Chike Oti, said the operatives could not be from the F-SARS.

He said, “They can’t be F-SARS operatives because as of last week, F-SARS operatives wear uniforms and not jackets. How can they come up with such an allegation against F-SARS when we all know that F-SARS has been reformed and the Commissioner of Police made it known to the general public that henceforth, F-SARS operatives would operate in their uniform? So for anyone to have come up with such bogus claim is entirely out of order.”

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