The leaders of Okunraye Community in Ibeju Lekki area of Lagos State have denied being culpable in the incident that led to the gruesome murder of the Managing Director of Lekki Free Trade Zone (LFTZ) Limited, Mr. Tajudeen Disu, who was killed on October 12, 2015 while resolving a land dispute.The leaders of the community, in an affidavit in support of fundamental human rights enforcement suit filed yesterday before the Lagos High Court, Igbosere, disclosed that contrary to initial accusation, it was indeed the stray bullet from the mobile policemen that hit Disu from behind and killed him instantly.
One of the leaders, Alhaji Surajudeen Olalekan Salami, who deposed to an affidavit in support of the suit on behalf of others, recalled that the Lagos State Government, sometime in 2007, forcibly acquired their land from them.
He said the people of Okunraye had their homes and native buildings on the land and also made their livelihood by farming on the land and fishing in river.
He added that on the day when Disu was killed, the leaders of the community were to meet with Dangote Group to discuss issues pertaining to the involvement of members of the community in the massive project that the company was erecting on their land, especially the provision of job opportunities for the youths in the community.
Salami said they had made several attempts to discuss with Dangote management but to no avail, and that the development forced the youths to barricade the entrance into the project site of Dangote in an attempt to compel the company to discuss with the community with the possibility of a lasting solution to the outstanding issue.
He said at about 9a.m., he was informed that a large group of mobile policemen had surrounded the entrance of the project and were burning down the barricade and other obstruction.
Salami, who described himself as a principal member of the Okunraye community, further recalled that the policemen stormed the community on the fateful day and started releasing tear-gas and shooting in the air.
He said at the time the shooting was on-going, the Divisional Police Office in charge of the area was at the palace of the Baale of Okunraye to discuss how the issue could be resolved, and that the DPO had promised that the Dangote management would communicate with the community.
At that point, Salami said: “Some members then rushed to the Baale’s House to inform him of a mayhem on-going outside and how the policemen had burnt down the barricade. The DPO left Baale’s House to go and confirm the report.
“When I got there, I met the Managing Director of Lekki Free Trade Zone (LFTZ) Limited, Mr. Tajudeen Disu; Alhaji Jegede, Chairman of Resettlement Committee, and the Baale of Igiye Community.
“When we were imploring Disu, Jegede and the Baale of Igiye Community to stop policemen from shooting because the members of the Okunraye Community did not want to fight and only wanted to discuss with Dangote management, the police refused to stop shooting and then a stray bullet hit Disu from behind and he died instantly,” Salami narrated.
He said the bullet also hit a young woman from the community and she sustained injury on the arm.
Salami, who said he saw the policeman that pulled the trigger that killed Disu, alleged that the policemen stop shooting when they realised that a stray bullet had killed Disu.
He added that himself and others left the scene immediately to take the injured woman to the hospital, and that by the time they came back, the remains of Disu had been removed from the scene.
The applicants in the suit are Jubriala Balogun, Mr. Akibu Razak, Alhaji Surajudeen Salami, Baale Yesiru Amusa (suing for themselves and on behalf of the people of Okunraye Town), while the defendants are Nigerian Police, Inspector General of Police, Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Nigerian Army, Department of State Security (DSS), Special Anti-Robbery Squad, Dangote Group and Ibeju Lekki Local Government.
They are seeking among others an order directing the respondents to release them unconditionally from custody, and an order declaring their arrest and continuous detention as wrongful and a sharp contravention of their fundamental human rights enshrined in Chapter 4 of the Constitution and Article 23 (1) (4) (5) (6) (7), 12 (1) and 14 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Right (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, 2004.
They also want a declaration that the invasion of their community on October 12, 2015 and their subsequent arrests constituted a threat to life, freedom, and private and family life.
They further want a perpetual injunction restraining the respondents whether by themselves, agents, servants, privies or any other person acting on their behalf from arresting, detaining, harassing, invading Okunraye community or otherwise violating their fundamental human rights.
When the matter came up before Justice R.I.B Adebiyi yesterday, the applicants’ lawyer, Akinlabi Apara informed the court of an ex-parte application and other processes filed in the suit.
But Justice Adebiyi said she would not rush to take any hasty decision in the matter without studying the file.
She said the matter was just brought to her knowledge and that she needed time to understand the issues involved.