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Court Restrains IGP, Others From Arresting Accountant Over Land Matter

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A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos today, restrained the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) and five others, from encroaching on the fundamental rights of a Chartered Accountant, Mr. Anthony Oluwatoyin Ogunlela.

The court presided over by Justice Abimbola Awogboro, made the restraining order, after listening to the submission made by Barrister Emmanuel Umoren, counsel to Anthony Ogunlela

Ogunlela in a Motion Exparte marked FHC/L/CS/1901/2021, had listed IGP, the Assistant Inspector-General of Police (Zone 2, Lagos); one DSP Friday; Supol Taofeek Olawunmi Olokode, Mr. Olatunji Kolawole a.ka. Bela Vista and Bela Vista Property Development Limited, as first to sixth respondents in the suit.

In granting the interim order, Justice Awogboro held that: “I find merit in the application. An order of interim injuncton restraining the respondents, especially, first to sixth respondents, their agents, servants or assigns from doing anything whatsoever that will encroach on the Applicant’s fundamental rights to access to his legitimate property, freedom of movement, personal liberty, fair hearing and freedom from unlawful persecution and/or prosecution, harassment, arrest and degrading treatment in terms of the reliefs sought in the accompanying statement of facts pending the hearing and determination of the originating motion”.

Justice Awogboro however order the applicant, Mr. Ogunlela, to file an undertaken to pay damages should in case the order sought for ought not to be granted.

The judge has however adjourned till January 6, 2022, for hearing of the substantive suit.

Ogunlela in an affidavit attached with the motion Exparte averred that himself and his wife, Olayinka, on or about 1996 purchased a piece of land at Ikate-Elegushi, Lekki from the Elegushi Royal Family, sold through the Elegushi Property Investment Company Limited and that the land is known as Plot 28, Block 10, Bakare Street, Ikate, Lekki, Lagos State, and caused it to be surveyed, got consent of the Governor of Lagos state in compliance with the provisions of the Land Use Act, 1978 and same was registered as No. 89/89/2124 at the Land Registry, Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos State. Annexed and marked Exhibit BC1 is a copy of the said registered document.

He added that he has been in peaceful occupation of the land since he purchased it from the vendors as he built a fence in 2007 after he got approval from Lagos State Government.

The applicant stated that sometime in November 2019, he noticed a perimeter fence, being built trying to encircle his land and others and he immediately complained to his Vendor who informed him that it was an illegal structure being constructed by one man popularly known as Bela Vista and that he should not bother, as they are in court in Suit marked LD/167/2008 between Bela Vista Property and Development Company Limited Vs Elegushi Property Investment Company Limited and others trying to lay claim to land that does not belong to him and-that i should go on with my construction as it did not affect my land directly.

The applicant stated that he was surprised when on June 6, 2020, he went to his site and found that his fence had been pulled down by unknown persons and he immediately reported to the Ilasan Police Division, Eti-Osa LGA and his vendor made a complainant statement regarding the destruction of his fence on the June 7, 2020.

He averred that he commenced sand filling the land and rebuilding the fence in November 17, 2021 when he was attacked by some persons wearing police vests with the inscription “Special Forces” on them, when he asked them to identify themselves, they refused. Again, I reported to the Ilasan Police Station by Petition as they said that if I do not leave the land, I will be killed.

He stated that when the Ilasan Police Station could not do anything about his petition, even though the police invited the fifth Respondent who I khew later was behind the destruction of my fence, he refused to show up at the Police Station, wherein I was advised that he being a big man with several policemen as his guards, there is nothing the Police Station can do to him and it was better I went to the 2″ Respondent (AIG, Zone 2) to report the criminal elements in the actions taken against me.

I then wrote a petition to the second Respondent. Adding that after the Petition to the second respondent, the fifth and sixth respondents’ agents came back with some armed policemen in uniform driving a Toyota Hilux with registration No. Lagos KTU 799 FV and told his staff to stop work and leave his property or when they come back, lives will be lost. He then called the Investigating Police Officer, (IPO) assigned to him in Zone 2, one Fidelis, who advised him to contact the Ilasan Police Station which he did and a policeman from there was sent to the site.

The said Policeman advised the man who came with the policemen to desist from what they were doing as the matter is a land matter and not what the police should step into except the criminal element of it.

The complainant further stated that he reported the land grab element of this incursion into his property to the Lagos State Task Force on Land Grabbers. But to his surprised when at about 11 am on Friday, December 10, 2021, himself and his staff working at the site were virtually kidnapped and hijacked from my work site by some armed men and bundled to Zone 2, Onikan, by the third respondent and other policemen under the command and control of the first, second and third respondents.

He averred that as he was being abducted by the fourth respondent and the Policemen he came with, he attempted to drive to the Ilasan Police Station to inform them that he was being abducted, the fourth respondent threatened me not to try that and then I asked them that since they were policemen, it was standard practice all over the world that they ought to have reported to the nearest police station before embarking on their operation, the fourth respondent said it was not necessary that Ilasan Police Station was under the AIG.

He added that throughout his ordeal in the hands of the agents of the first and second brespondents, they did not allow him access to his lawyers.

When they took me to their premises, they released me on bail to my friend, Barrister Kingsley Ojo Omojola at about 10.30 pm. The plaintiff stated that the action of the respondents has caused his health to deteriorate as his hypertension has increased and his blood pressure level too.

He also stated that at the instigation of the fifth and sixth respondents, the first to forth respondents caused him to be kidnapped, abducted, and dragged to the office of the second respondent at Onikan from Ikate, wherein he was arrested, threatened, intimidated and harassed and granted administrative bail for no just cause.

He stated that the first to forth respondents never invited him before coming to arrest him and he was never given the opportunity of reading the petition that was written against him neither was his lawyer shown the petition, adding that the third and fourth respondents under the supervision of the first and second respondents, unlawfully and illegally directed his staff to stop work on the site and arrested his contractor along with him without the vires in law.

He stated that he has been informed by his lawyer, Emmanuel Umoren, on December 14, 2021, that the Act of the fourthh respondent, were Unlawful, unconstitutional and ultra vires the provision of Section 4 of the Police Act, 2020.

He further stated that the third and fourth respondents caused him to write statement under caution, under duress and fear of detention without allowing him to read the petition written against him. Adding that the first to fourth respondents have gone ultra vires their powers by becoming a court that wants to determine issues bordering absolutely on land dispute.

He also stated that he has been under constant threat, harassment and intimidation from the third and fourth respondents as agents of the first and second respondents. Adding that his arrest and threat of further arrests by the third and fourth respondents at the instigation of the fifth and sixth respondents has caused me shock, distress, psychological trauma and adversely affected my health.

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