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Published On: Fri, May 23rd, 2014

FESTAC Residents Complain of Harassment by Amuwo-Odofin LGA Security on Military Uniform

Amuwo-Odofin LGA Security men on military uniform paraded by Lagos State Police Command recently....

Residents of FESTAC in Amuwo- Odofin local Government Area of Lagos state have raised the alarm over incessant harassment by Amuwo Odofin Local Government Area security men dressed in Nigerian military officers’ uniform.
Investigation revealed that the local government security personnel in military uniforms have taking over the duty of the police in FESTAC by resorting to execution of illegal arrest and detention of residents, collection of illegal tolls from shop owners, mounting of illegal road blocks, arresting and collection of fine from traffic offenders and imposition of curfew.

A resident of FESTAC and businessman who owns a car garage in FESTAC, Mr. Desmond Ogochukwu told our correspondent that the activities of the local government security in Army uniform is frustrating his business and that of his colleagues because of their incessant visit to their business places demanding for one settlement or the order even when they have paid all their dues up to date.
He complained that despite the facts that he and his colleagues are not found wanting in any way in term of rent, environment cleanliness and other local governments commitments, the boys who claimed to be working for the Chairman of Amuwo Odofin Local Government Area (LGA), Mr Ayodele Adewale would always use one excuse or the other to extort huge amount of money from them.
“If we refuse to pay they threaten to lock up my car garage. There was once once I refused to pay they locked up my car garage for a week. I lost a lot in term of patronage for the one week they locked up my shops. When I reported the issue to the local government chairman he advised me to go and settle my issue with them,” Ogochukwu disclosed.
Corroborating the ordeal of Ogochukwu, a resident of FESTAC, Bayo Akinwale said he was driving home one afternoon when three men in Army uniformed flagged him to a halt and started asking for his particulars.
“Before I knew what was happening, two of them have jumped into my car asking me to drive towards the Amuwo Odofin LGA secretariat. When we got there, they complained that I committed a traffic offence. I was not allowed to defend myself. They immediately slammed N20, 000 fines on me. My entire plea fell on deaf ears. It took me about a week to raise the money to bail my car. After payment, no receipt was issued,” Enraged Akinwale complained to our reporter, just as he appealed to Lagos State Governor to step into the illegal activities of the local government security men in military uniform.
The residents equally complained that the local government authority seemed to have over stepped his administrative boundaries by imposing 10.00 pm to 6.00 curfew in FESTAC. During this period any one arrested is either beaten by the men in Army uniform after which money is extorted from them as fine.
Complains of one harassment or the other by this local government workers in military uniform is everywhere in FESTAC. Residents now have sad tales of one bad encounter or the other with this security men in Army uniforms parading themselves as the ‘generalissimo’ of FESTAC.
It was as a result of the complains from FESTAC residents over the excesses of these local government security in military uniform that lead to Lagos State Police Commissioner, Mr Umar Manko ordering for raiding and arrest. In the course of raiding, no fewer than nine of these men were arrested.
While parading them, Manko said they all claimed to be members of the Man O’ War. He, however, wondered what Man O’ War members are doing in military uniforms.
“We arrested some of them who claimed to be working for the Amuwo-Odofin Local Government Area. The fact is that none of them has ever served in the military. Many of them said they bought these uniforms in the market, but we would not allow anyone to use Army uniform to perpetrate crimes here. Most of the crimes that were reported around the FESTAC area were perpetrated by these men who put on military uniforms. That is why we decided to put a stop to that,” Manko disclosed.
Reacting to the allegation, Amuwo Odofin Local Government Area Chairman, Mr Ayodele Adewale denied ever habouring fake military officers.
According to him, “We want to state here categorically and emphatically that the Local Government do not abhor fake military officers and will ever have recourse to do so. It is on record that we have cordial working relationship with the Armed Forces including NSCDC, the Nigerian Army, Navy, Police, SSS and other security apparatus, as well as, paramilitary personnel such as the Man O War, the WAI Brigade, the Red Cross et al.
“The truth of the matter is that the uniform in question is being used all over the country by the Man O War. Even when the Commissioner of Police came visiting the Local Government on the 14th August, 2012 at about 1.05pm, he embraced the Man O War officers in the Local Government,” he disclosed.
Agreed that the security wore Man o’ War uniform as affirmed by Adewale, but is wearing such military or Man O’War camouflage a license for the local government security agents to harass and intimidate innocent FESTAC residents? Or does it qualifiy them to usurp the duty of the of Nigeria police officers legally assigned to perform such role? These are are puzzles Adewale have not been able to respond to.

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