Efforts by Alhaji Gbenga Ibuoye, owner of a mining firm, Gbenga Ibuoye Nigeria Limited, to resume business operations of his company at Feru Ado-Odo Otta area of Ogun State, was prevented Tuesday 29th of March, 2021, by men of the Ogun State Police Command deployed to the area.
The Mining firm was favoured by a court order restraining all defendants after its legal counsel O.O Oniyire had filed a “Motion on Notice” with suit number – FHC/AB/CS/26/202, before the Abeokuta Federal High Court seeking the intervention of the court over the reported invasion of his client’s property by some hoodlums and land grabbers who he alleged are empowered by some high ranking officers within the Nigeria Police Force.
Joined as the defendant in the filed-suits are Abraham Idowu Akanle, Taiwo Adenike Akanle, Kazeem Ajiboye (A.K.A Oluomo), Kabiru Odunsi (A.K.A Alumi), Nurudeen Adeoye, Mutiu Oriade, Rasheed Dada (A.K.A Akeda), Faisu Abiodun, ACP Muyideen Obe, Assistant Inspector General of Police Zone 2 Onikan Lagos, and Nigeria Police Force.
Findings revealed that at least 40 mobile policemen were stationed permanently at each end of the road leading to the site since January to prevent the firm from operating. The access road was reportedly vandalized and fenced by some hoodlums and land grabbers, who community residents claimed operated under the watch of some officers on January 20th, 2021.
Journalists on an investigative visit to the site on Tuesday saw at least 60 fully armed police officers led by the Sango Otta Police Area Commander, ACP Muyideen Obe blocking the access road to it.
Speaking to reporters on the site, the Otta Police Area Commander, ACP Muyideen Obe, stated that he led the officers there to maintain peace and order saying he was acting under the instructions of the Inspector General of Police, IG Mohammed Adamu. He insisted the court order does not prevent the police from coming to the venue; neither does it authorize the firm to resume business activities there.
Speaking on the court order, the Area Commander maintained that the complainant will not be allowed access to his mining site and will have to wait till April 21, 2020, when the court would resume sitting on the case.
In a chat with journalists, Ibuoye condemned the undue interferences from the police over his mining operations, wondering why the police would choose to ignore a court order to further interrupt his legitimate business activities.
He said, “Despite the court directives restraining all the defendants from their illegal activities of disturbing my business operations, it is unfortunate to note that the Nigeria Police Force, which is supposed to be a custodian of the law, are at the fore of totally disregarding it. Among all the defendants captured in the suits, the interest of the Sango Otta Area Commander is still unclear to me.
“The Area Commander is deliberately misinterpreting the court order which clearly refrain all the defendants from disturbing by business activities. The Order did not restrict me from doing my business; neither did it say my business operations should be halted till 21st of April, 2021. It is obvious the ACP is boldly disregarding the content of the law. Muyideen Obe has deliberately shunned the directives of the judge.
While claiming to be acting under the directives of the Inspector-General of Police, he has always shown, by his actions, that there is more to this issue than meet the eye.” This same Area Commander, along with some land grabbers and hoodlums authorized the destruction of an access road I constructed in the Feru community which gulped up to N300,000,000 (Three Hundred Million Naira), did the IG of Police also send him to do that?
“It is shocking to note that the Area Commander could be ignoring the court instruction which binds on all the defendants, including him, to refrain from depriving my company, which is duly registered with a valid license from the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, to continue its operations unhindered”.
According to Gbenga Ibuoye, his mining license is expected to run from the 8th of July 2020 to the 7th of July, 2025. He said, “Already, since the Area Commander took over from his predecessor, he has, with his constant attacks on Gbenga Ibuoye Nigeria Limited, succeeded in crippling our business activities getting to a year.” Annual remittance due to the Federal Government from my company has also been affected. Would the Area Commander bear the costs and royalty payables for the period of our inactivity which he caused? He asked.
“Whose interest is he fighting for? Since I started construction of the Feru road which they eventually vandalized, nobody came forward to challenge me, none of them has even come here physically, but you only see the Police acting strongly to protect the interest of the land grabbers and to prevent us from working”. “Since I started my mining business here in Feru, There has never been any crisis or violence here at all to warrant the deployment of Police officers here. I am shocked at the deployment of up to 60 police operatives here. This is demeaning of such a professional institution that is supposed to protect law-abiding citizens. The purpose of the deployment raises a moral question on the instigators and it is condemnable.
Community residents who spoke to reporters have expressed utmost displeasure over the activities of the police, lamenting the delineation of the Feru road which links the community to Itele, Lafenwa and some parts of Lagos State.
A resident who pleaded anonymity lamented the inconveniences caused by the destruction of their only access road saying a lot of school children in the community no longer go to school since there is no alternate route for them to use.
A Feru landlord named Adenike Ayuba said, “This is a road that I usually pass going to Lafenwa and Ayobo. We were surprised when they demarcated the road and mounted a fence on it saying nobody should pass. Now we have no easy alternative route.
Also, Azeez Jimoh, a spokesperson of the OdunIfa family said, what we are witnessing here is quite unfortunate. Alhaji Ibuoye was the one that constructed the damaged road. I am one of the representatives of the legitimate families that sold the land to Alhaji Ibuoye. Please help us to beg these people to allow him to continue his mining business unhindered.
Sources within the Feru community reveals that the piece of land upon which the mining site operates was sold to Alhaji Gbenga Ibuoye by the three Feru families which are Odunifa, Onigbeyin and Falola family. These are the legitimate land-owning families here. “Let me state here that we don’t understand the interest of the police in this issue. We wonder who is using these officers to perpetrate these acts. There is no crisis in this community; rather, it has always been relatively peaceful until the interferences by the police. At no point have we also been invited by the police to determine our stand in all these.