The Lagos State Government during the week arraigned 50 suspects before Chief Magistrate Bola Osunsanmi of Court 4, Ikeja Magisterial District over an attack on officials of the State Building Control Agency (LASBCA) and the vandalism of their equipment (caterpillar) at Idansan Village in Ibeju, Lekki.
The 50 accused persons, including four girls, who were arraigned on the orders of the State Commissioner of Police (CP), Mr. Edgal Imohimi, the Chairman of the State Task Force, Mr. Olayinka Egbeyemi, a Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP), said, were apprehended for allegedly attacking the LASBCA officials violently and vandalizing and setting on fire their working equipment, including caterpillar while carrying out the demolition of structures illegally erected on an acquired land in the area.
The LASBCA officials, according to the task force Chairman, were allegedly attacked with stones, Iron-rods, broken bottles and burnt tyres before a distressed call got to his men, who promptly moved in to rescue the embattled building control agency officials from their assailants.
Investigations, Egbeyemi said, have shown that the owners/occupiers of the shanties before the demolition exercise were served necessary notices and given several months to evacuate all their belongings from the government approved land for the ongoing ‘Dangote Refinery’ project around the area but they chose to attack not only the government officials, who were there to demolish the structures and evict them, but to destroy the caterpillar and other equipment worth millions of Naira deployed for the purpose by dousing them with petrol and setting them on fire.
Following this barbaric act of the suspects, the CSP said the State CP has directed that henceforth anyone found to be involved in the vandalism of government property should be promptly arrested and prosecuted, stating that Imohimi would want members of the public to always ensure that public property, including iron-mesh used for road demarcation on the expressways are protected, warning that anyone caught vandalizing or destroying such government would be severely dealt with according to the law.
One of the accused, Henry Agbor, 45years of age, an indigene of Abia State, appealed to the State Government to tamper justice with mercy, confessing that they were mobilised and handed different weapons by the owners of the illegal shanties to resist the demolition exercise by attacking the officials, swearing not to ever “attack any government official or destroy public property again in my life, if I am pardoned by government and set free.”
All the 50 accused were arraigned on a four-count charge of ‘Arson under Section 341 (c)’, ‘Conspiracy under Section 411’, ‘Conduct likely to cause breach of peace under Section 168 (1) (d)’ and ‘Unlawful obstruction under section 117 (1) & (2) of the Lagos Law of Lagos State 2015.
Chief Magistrate Bola Osunsanmi on application remanded all 50 of them in prison and immediately referred the case file to the Lagos State Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) for legal advice as ‘Arson’, one of the charges levied against them, carries a sentence of ‘Life Imprisonment.