By Franklin Ihejirika, Lagos
In recent times, Oke-Afa, Isolo in Lagos has taken a new dimension for notoriety and civil disturbances as a place where AArea Boys use the slightest opportunity to unleash mayhem on the people and destroy their properties.
November 11th and 12th will always be remembered as a day terror reigned supreme in Oke-afa area as properties worth millions of naira were destroyed, shops looted and the relative peace enjoyed in the area was shattered by Area Boys who claimed that their families and clients won a long court battle on the expanse of land located along the Ajao Oke-Afa link road and the police watched without doing anything.
Not that the Police were outnumbered, they came in their hundreds, but were merely onlookers, watching as Area Boys displayed their madness.
Series of disturbances in the area started earlier in the year with the fight involving the commercial motor cyclists popularly called Okada Riders and Area Boys over the high tariff charged by the Oke-afa branch of the National Union of Road Transport Worker, NURTW. This fracas led to the destruction of lives and properties as many motor bikes and Keke NAPEP were burnt and shops along the Ajao- Ejigbo link road were vandalised.
As a result of this, Police were mobilised to the area for days to maintain peace. At long last, peace was restored and life returned to normal. After that, there came another confrontation between the police and the Okada riders. The police squad who came from Alausa in Ikeja took the Okada riders unaware and confiscated many Okadas. The Okada riders were miffed that the police came in the peak of their business in the evening, raided them and seized many of their bikes.
The Okada riders who are mostly from the Northern part of the country and Niger Republic mobilised in annoyance and attacked the few policemen remaining after the raid, killing two, and setting the Amoured Personnel Carrier placed at the centre of roundabout to forestall break down of law and order ablaze and fled.
The Amoured Personnel Carrier was placed at the strategic location following the earlier bloody clash between the Okada Riders and the NUTRW, joined by the Area Boys.
This area due to its high traffic, people going to work or coming from work rely on the services of Okada Riders to beat the traffic and make things easier for them. The commercial means of transportation allowed on the route are Keke and Okada, so as to manage the traffic to Ajao road which passes through residential areas. Today, life has been made miserable for residents of these areas who now resort to long trekking as the police has vowed never to let the Okada riders return again. The Police now patrol the areas to revenge what the Okada riders did to them, so the Okada riders are now off that route, restoring some level of sanity and things are now done orderly and not before when the Okada and Keke riders always block the road to hustle for passengers.
But before the dust raised by the attack on the police and their Armoured Personnel Carrier could settle, a bunch of hired miscreants over 1,500 in number stormed the area with bulldozers, Monday Hammers and all sorts of equipment, destroying and looting peoples shops while the Police who accompanied them merely watched as idle onlookers.
The area was deserted as the shop owners ran away from the hired thugs, given way for them to embark on massive destruction of properties and looting of shops.
Most of the fences in the affected area were destroyed, churches belonging to Redeemed Christian Church of God, the Apostolic Church, TAC, the Adejuwon Lawn Tennis Court and building inside, including the lawn Tennis Club house were destroyed by the rampaging Area Boys who explained that a legal case on those affected land which has been subject of litigation since 1977 has been decided in their favour.
Based on the Judgement, the Area Boys mobilised in their hundreds from the Court, guided by the police to wreck Havoc in the area.
The streets were deserted, as commuters avoided the route in other not to be attacked and robbed. Motorists abandoned the road and followed other routes.
The big posters placed in every building around the affected land where the judgement was given, reads: “This is to inform the general public that the large expanse of land lying and being at Oke-Afa Ilamose Village near Ejigbo shown on the survey plan No CD\778/77 dated 11th November 1977 belong absolutely to the estates of Abiodun O Ojo alias Ojo Barber and Jokotola Bakare due to effective utilization from the time immemorial and particularly following the judgements of Courts of records in favour of Abiodun O Ojo and another. Viz; High Court of Lagos State, Tuesday 6th of June 2006 in Suit no ID\1752/89 between Mr. Abiodun O Ojo, and Mrs Jokotade Bakare versus Alhaji Iman Ayinde Akinyemi, Alhaji Bello (Baale) and Alhaji Raheem Adejumo which judgement was delivered in favour of claimants Mr Abiodun O Ojo and Mrs Jokotade Bakare.”
The notice reads further that , “i (court) award the sum of N250, 000 damages for trespasses committed by the defendants on the piece or parcel of land lying and being at Ejigbo , Lagos which is more partially described and delineated.
The High Court of Lagos in her ruling delivered on the 26th day of November 2012 in the suit number mentioned above held inter alia that, it clear to me that the judgement creditors being adjudged owners of the land also own the structures on it and are at liberty to deal with the land and the structure thereon as they please and also that, “, it is hereby ordered that the appeal on the judgement of this court having been determined, the judgement creditors are at liberty to fully exercise their right of ownership on the land adjudged to them. All occupiers and trespassers (natural or Juristic person) are hereby advised to liaise with the judgement creditors families Attorney, Alhaji Akeem Osuolalae to regularise/perfect their titles through Nigercat Nigeria Company Ltd, Tee’s place.”
After the display of madness, most of the traders using the affected shops have to hurriedly evacuate their wares before the Area Boys who now see this as an opportunity to loot, come after them and loot everything in the night.
During the short period the reign of terror lasted, shops where beer and other alcoholic and non alcoholic beverages are sold were destroyed, and the area boys had a field day drinking free beers and other drinks to the detriment of the shop owners who were caught in the web of the legal tussle among the contending families.
A man who sells, and distributes beer for Nigerian Breweries and Guinness was badly hit as the area boys destroyed, looted and vandalised his big parking store.
Today, the busy Oke-afa Ajao link road is a shadow of itself as the traders have vacated all the shops in fear of more attacks, the Okada riders have given way, and long traffic caused by the road construction at the Ajao Estate portion of the road have made thing unbearable for people going to work, especially in the morning.
But the issue now is, what becomes of people whose properties were destroyed and their shops looted in name of this court judgement, who compensates them?, must things be done in this babaric manner?.
Is time government steps in and ensure that things are done in the proper way and not constant intimidation and harrasement of people.