Pandemonium broke out in the Aboru area of Iyana-Ipaja in the Alimosho Local Government Area of Lagos State recently as four air force men attached to the OP MESA allegedly led about 17 hoodlums to demolish some buildings at the Valley View Estate.
The air force men, led by Staff Sergeant T. A. Oyewo, and the hoodlums allegedly acted on the instructions of one Mr Yinka Campbell, when they force their way into the estate around 10.30am, destroyed some buildings and took advantage of the situation to loot property worth millions.
While these were going on, the owners of some of the affected buildings informed the Oke-Odo Police Division and policemen, who were detailed to the scene, arrested the air force men and nine of the hoodlums.
The narrative, however, changed when the suspects were taken to the police station, from where they were transferred to the Area ‘P’ Command, but the Commander, Gbenga Adepoju, reportedly released the air force men.
A landlord, whose building was affected, Adekunle Williams, while condemning the police for releasing the air force men, expressed shock that when the matter was transferred to the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department, Panti, Yaba, the Investigating Police Officer, ASP Lateef Sanusi, also released the hoodlums, He said, “I just finished building my house at the Valley View Estate, but I could not move in because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But one Mr Campbell recruited the OP MESA and hoodlums during the lockdown to illegally demolish my building and others. Items worth N9m were stolen from my building. I quickly reported the incident at the Oke-Odo Police Station and the air force men and some of the hoodlums were arrested.
“The matter was transferred to the Area ‘P’ Command, where the OP MESA men were released despite not providing a court order and demolition notice for what they did. The case was later transferred to the SCIID, Panti, Yaba, and the hoodlums were detained and later released.
“We challenged the IPO, ASP Lateef Sanusi, when we heard about the release of the suspects and he said it was not a case of stealing and murder, but he never considered the value of what we lost.”
Another landlord, Babajide Ogundeji, said the Zone 2 Police Command had been petitioned to intervene, adding that till date, Campbell had not been arrested.
He challenged Campbell to show valid documents of his claim to the land and the demolition order from a competent court.
Ogundeji said, “We were expecting Sanusi to charge the hoodlums, but he didn’t. Despite the hoodlums’ confession that they were sent by Mr Yinka Campbell, the police refused to arrest him. The incident happened on Wednesday, April 29, 2020.
“We were at the Zone 2 when we called Sanusi about the case and he said the suspects had been released.
“I asked if Campbell had been arrested, but Sanusi said they don’t know his address and that the touts told him that they usually meet at a junction to collect money. Honestly, I feel like giving up on my country with what is happening with the security agents manipulating the case. We have picture and video evidence and the confession of the hoodlums as to who sent them, but up till now, no one has been brought to justice.”
When contacted, Campbell denied responsibility for the demolition but said those who carried it out acted with his full backing, because his firm had been granted possession of the land.
“I had in the past been demolishing their structures, but I was not the one who arranged this last one. When the people we sold the land to organised to demolish, they told me and I said I was in full support,” he stated.
The surveyor, Benjamin Akinsanya, who sold the land to the victims, told PUNCH Metro that his clients had a Supreme Court judgment in their favour on the land, adding that Campbell was fond of destroying property without court orders and challenged him to produce documents on the ownership of the land.
The state Police Public Relations Officer, Bala Elkana, said, “Investigation is still ongoing; the demolition happened during the lockdown and the courts were not sitting, so we couldn’t charge the suspects and we couldn’t keep them in our custody indefinitely.
“For the safety of our officers and the suspects, we couldn’t keep them in our custody, except for very grievous offences like murder and kidnapping. This is a land-related matter that resulted in malicious damage, so the suspects were granted bail pending when the investigation will be concluded and the courts resume sitting.”