Another fresh crisis is brewing in Ibeju-Lekki over missing dredging pipes, writes Peter Uzoho
Some months back, Chief Shamsudeen Ogunkoya of Okeogun Odofin and Mufutau Olamiji, Baale of Aladeseso in the Okegun-Odofin area of Ibeju Lekki were at loggerheads over an ‘Obaship’ tussle between Ismaila Ogunkoya, Shamsudeen’s younger brother and Olamiji. The Ogunkoyas accused Olamiji of intruding on their territory with the support of the Onibeju of Ibeju Lekki, Oba Rafiu Olusegun Salami. The two also laid claims to Okegun Odofin territories within the area.
Now, a fresh crisis is about to heat up the community once again. This time, the issue is about the theft of dredging pipes put in care of Ogunkoya (elder brother to Ismaila Ogunkoya, Baale of Okeogun Odofin) but allegedly stolen by people sent by Olamiji, the Baale of Aladeseso, a community that is few metres away from the Okeogun Odofin community.
According to Ogunkoya, who is also the Ajagungbade of Ibeju-Lekki land, he went to his brother’s palace one afternoon and witnessed a scuffle among some youths of the community at the entrance of the Okeogun-Odofin community.
He said the youths of the community were trying to extort money from the truck driver and attendants sitting on top of some dredging pipes inside a truck.
He said that while trying to calm everyone down, he looked further and discovered that the said pipes looked exactly like the pipes put in his care.
He questioned the drivers and the boys. “They replied me that it was Baale Aladeseso, who sent them. Immediately, I asked two of my boys to go check the pipe equipment at the waterfront and they came back to confirm that the pipes inside the truck were the ones put in my care. I could not believe it; I went to check by myself and discovered that it was true. Immediately, I called the Akodo Police Station to send their men to come arrest the guys and the truck,” he said. But the Police, according to Ajagungbade, after the arrest, were not willing to invite them both (that is himself and Baale Aladeso) for interrogation. Rather, they were asking him to close the case.
Ajagungbade explained further that when he confronted Baale Aladeseso with the allegations, he denied and claimed the pipes were his own. “Baale Aladeseso told me that he bought the pipes from one Selim but because the pipes didn’t fit into what he wanted to use them for, he asked his boys to return the equipment. I asked him to produce the receipt of purchase but he could not. At the Police station, Aladeseso changed his tone by saying someone owed him to the tune of N5 million and was not willing to pay, which was the reason he sent his boys to go confiscate his dredging pipes,” Ajagungbade said.
Meanwhile, a titled chief, who pleaded anonymity said that the Onibeju Lekki of Lekki Kingdom, Oba Salami had issued warnings to titled chiefs and political thugs around that if anyone was found wanting of offences like stealing or disgraceful acts, they should be dealt with severely or be exposed and disgraced.
“Fortunately for me, it is the Oba’s person-the Aladeseso that has been found wanting. Let him now do the needful,” Ajagungbade said.
When reporters visited Akodo Police station, it was observed that a near-worn out truck with black long pipes were opposite the station. Facing the truck also was another truck carrying a long red-coloured seemingly empty container.
The Divisional Police Officer, DPO, CPS Adebayo, said that Ajagungbade was yet to come to him personally and he is yet to call the parties involved for discussion. He denied the allegation that his station seemed compromised.
Adebayo, who spoke to a reporter via telephone, said that he did not want to release the truck to wrong persons as there were two parties claiming ownership of the truck.
He said: “Ajagungbade did not report to me personally but through my inspector who handled the case. They may be the ones inviting him to come close the case, which is not to my knowledge. I am yet to get proper briefing on the case.”
Mr. Akin Akinwale, owner of the alleged stolen pipes (Jaak Limited, an engineering and marine services company) explained that he took those pipes to Okeogun Odofin community for dredging purposes. He said he also bought other landed properties within the community along with the dredging pipes but discovered that there were other interests competing for the zone. As such, he decided to suspend his own pending when all nerves would be calm.
He said that he signed a contract deal with Ajagungbade to keep watch over the pipes, container and other landed properties.
However, one afternoon, he got a call from Akodo Police Station to come identify a truck containing some pipes, which he did and discovered that about four of the pipes were missing.
Thereafter, Akinwale said that Baale Aladeseso called him to plead with him that it was the devil’s handiwork. He said the Baale told him that his boys informed him wrongly that the pipe belonged to someone, who was owing them some large amount of money.
“The Baale Aladeseso pleaded with me that it was the devil’s handiwork. He begged me that we should see face-to-face but I refused because I do not stay in Lagos. Then, the Baale promised to pay me with lands in lieu of the missing pipes. I asked him to commit it into black and white because I do not want controversy. On deeper thinking, I asked the Baale to discuss with Ajagungbade, whom I had instructed to be in charge of the pipes,” he explained.
When a call was put through to Baale Aladeseso, he said he was in a meeting in Ikeja and that he would call back at his convenient time but he did not and when he was contacted again, he snapped that he was not ready for discussion. But some of his aides, who refused to disclose their names, when reporters visited his palace, insisted that the village head did not steal the pipes. Rather, they said it might just be a case of taking the wrong pipes from the water front.