Barrister M. A. Omotayo of Bandele Omotayo & Co. is at the forefront of the fight against land-grabbing syndicates like the one led by Otunba Kamorudeen Lamina.
Sir K-Oluwo, as Lamina is referred to by admirers, is remanded in Sagamu Prison custody by the Ogun State Chief Magistrate Court on a four-count charge of attempted murder, murder, unlawful possession of firearms and armed robbery.
Land-grabber from hell: Lamina finally faces mass murder, robbery charges after decade of “police protection”
In this interview with Stanley Ihedigbo, Barrister Omotayo gave insight into the vicious land-grabbing engagements that led to the displacement of indigenes, death of Itapara traditional head and multiple homicides; and the alleged role Lamina played in these crimes.
You are one of the lawyers who have gotten judgments against the now detained alleged land-grabber Otunba Kamorudeen Lamina (she cuts in)…
To call Lamina a land-grabber is to say the least. He is a murderer and an armed robber.
I am a lawyer. I know what am talking about and I’ve got proof to back it up. In 2014, I got a judgement in a matter I handled from the beginning to the end in suit HCS/136/2005: Chief Rasak Animasaun and others VS Mukaila Oke German and five others.
My clients, the claimants, were declared owners of Itapara village and farmland in Ogun State. This land shares boundary with Fakale, Ewuoloye, Igode, in Sagamu Local Government Area (LGA).
Seven months after the judgment, one Dauda Asikolaye who is Sir K-Oluwo’s site manager called to inform me that those we got a judgement against had gone to contract Sir K-Oluwo to take the land from my client.
Sir K demanded 20 acres of land from my clients, failure of which he said he would take the place and dispossess them of it. This was despite the fact that Justice E. O. Osinuga of High Court 1, Sagamu had given judgment in favour of my clients.
So, I told him to tell Sir K that there was a judgment and that such action would amount to contempt of the court and an affront to the law of the land. This was a case I prosecuted from 2005 and I got a judgment in 2014; almost 10 years.
I got a judgement in March 2014 and on the 4th of June 2015, Sir K Oluwo led about 300 men to the land in the company of some policemen from Zone 2. They invaded the Baale’s house, dragged the 89-year-old Baale out of his house and beat him up. They stole his money (N2.5 million), took his beads and his other belongings and threw him out of the village. The Baale died seven months after the attack on him.
Why was the matter not reported to the police for appropriate action?
Says who? It happened in the presence of officers from Zone 2 led by SP Babawale who escorted him (Sir K) to Itapara on the pretext that he was to serve a police invitation to Mr Nofiu Ogbara Afariogun, one of the principal members of the family.
In fact, those who witnessed the molestation of the late Baale ran out of the place and called me. I told them that I was in court and instructed them to go to the nearest police station which was Ogijo Divisional Police Station to report.
The DPO, CSP, Toyin Afolaogun detailed policemen with a patrol vehicle to the scene of the crime. On getting to the place, Sir K and his men holding all sorts of dangerous weapons including guns, sticks, clubs, surrounded the patrol vehicle, brought out the men — my client Azeez Animasaun, Shakiru Arepo and Jamiu Obafemi Rabiu Afariogun who were in the patrol vehicle.
They macheted them and inflicted several degrees of injuries on them in the presence of the policemen from Ogijo police station. All the policemen could do was to plead with him not to kill the men.
They robbed them of their monies and phones. One Tawoju removed the monies and phones from the pockets of my clients and handed them to Sir K. Till today they never returned these monies or phones.
Sir K released two of the men to the police and abducted Azeez, the youngest among them. They were so helpless that the police had to carry them. Azeez, who was drenched in his own blood, said his father’s labourer, Mr John, was shot dead by Sir K because he protested as they were inflicting machete injuries on him.
What baffled me was that it happened in the presence of six policemen from Ogijo. More disheartening was that no report was made to Area Command on what they saw when they followed the complainants to the scene of the crime. They also refused to give the victims papers to go to the clinic for treatment.
I protested, demanding action but the DPO, CSP Afolaogun told us that Sir K was every powerful and deadly. He said he would not risk his life and that of his men.
So I wrote a petition to the IGP and he ordered that the matter be referred to X-Squad for investigation. Sir K and his men were invited. They refused to honour the invitation. Instead, Sir K went to another division of the police – SARS – that demanded the case file. They subsequently arrested my clients instead of Sir K.
What was the reason given by the police for the arrest of your clients (petitioners) instead of Sir K?
No reasons were given. So, I went to complain to the DIG that my clients were arrested instead of Sir K. The DIG directed that the case should be returned to the X-Squad.
Despite the return of the case file to X-Squad, Sir K refused to honour police invitation. We travelled to Abuja over 15 times but he refused to come.
Unfortunately, Buba Kura the then head of X-Squad was made Commissioner of Police. So, we were left with the DC Anekwe (now retired). For the reasons best known to him, he tried to mess up the case. The warrant of arrest was never allowed to be used. He said he contacted Sir K and he said he would not come except the team leader and the IPO SP. Monday Apeh was removed.
For no just course, DC Anekwe changed the team leader with one SP Stanley. I went to the IGP, Sunday Arase and lodged a complaint and the matter was transferred to IGP Monitoring Unit. X-squad was detailed to bring the suspect and the case file. It was the only time he came and this was during Ben Okolo’s time as the head of IG Monitoring.
We went for interrogation and was told the police would do their normal investigation. The police came and did their investigation and discovered truly that Sir K stationed armed men there (the areas where he was graabing lands). They recovered arms from Sir K’s men but claimed that the men ran away on sighting the police.
But the Ogun State PPRO, Mr Abimbola Oyeyemi, told some news outlets that police had no substantiated evidence to prosecute Sir K until now. Does it not contradict your claims?
On the day the policemen from the IGP Monitoring Unit came to Itapara, they interrogated people, though they were scared to talk. One Suleman Owolabi did speak.
The following day, as early as 4am, Sir K and about six of his men went to this boy’s house, forced his door open, tied him to the ceiling and tortured him from around 5am till about 4pm. They banished his wife and child, killed his ram and destroyed his properties. Around 5pm, they tied his hands and legs and put him at the back of Sir K’s vehicle and his properties, dumped him at a shrine with the hope of sacrificing him to Ogun, the god of Iron. They poured gin and palm wine on his head and carted his properties away.
But one of them took pity on him. Around 7pm, he untied him and looked for a motorcycle for him to escape. The victim went to Ogijo Police Station. They recorded his statement but never acted. Rather, the police told him to go and do the arrest himself because they claimed Sir K was deadly.
All these were reported to the monitoring unit in writing. The IG Monitoring Unit, after their investigation in Itapara, ordered Sir K to report to Abuja with his men. On the day he was to come (March 23, 2016), we were in Abuja waiting, only for his lawyer, Paul Ebiwenjumi, to appear with a copy of fundamental human right proceedings that was filed the previous day.
I told the IPO, SP Idowu Sunday that the process, a photocopy, should be disregarded as it was not served by a court bailiff but he refused to listen. He also refused my plea to give me the suit number so I could follow up the suit and respond to it.
About eight months after, I was at Ikorodu court for another matter when I stumble on the suit. You can imagine! A matter with jurisdiction in Ogun State was surreptitiously filed at Ikorodu in Lagos State where nobody would have seen it. Immediately I saw it, I wrote to the court asking to view the file and I collected a certified true copy of every document in the file.
On the day the matter was to be heard, seeing what I filed, the judge was ready to listen but Sir K’s counsel withdrew the matter. I immediately took the certified copy of the decision of the court back to the monitoring unit. I told them that the fundamental human right suit filed by Sir K had been taken care of and demanded that we proceed with the matter.
The IPO, Idowu Sunday, told me that there was a change that I should write a letter and I wrote. To my surprise, he denied ever meeting me or investigating any case against Sir K on my client’s complaint. It was not until Sir K was arrested by the Ogun State Police on the direction of the Ogun Department of Public Prosecution (DPP) that SP Idowu and his then team members brought out the case file. I am yet to check whether they have tempered with it but I am sure there is a duplicate copy at the office of the DIG, Force CID.
So what do you want the Ogun State Government and the judiciary to do now that Sir K has been arrested and remanded in prision?
He has to be allowed to face his charges without interference.
See, the Baale of Itapara died a few months after he was beaten by Sir K and his men. He was always in and out of the hospital with different complains until he developed high blood pressure and died on July 4. Even after his death, Sir K and his men refused to allow his children to bury him in Itapara, his ancestral home.
We reported to the Area Commander who detailed some policemen to accompany us. The policemen were beaten, their tear gas canisters ceased, and they were chased out of Itapara. The Baale was buried at Odogunyan. Till the present moment, Sir K never allowed the Afariogun family access to Itapara, their ancestral home.
In 2018 when Ogun State passed the land-grabbing bill into law, I wrote a letter to them and we were invited. Sir K too was invited but he refused to come. Rather, he sent his lawyer and there he was told the unconstitutionality of banishing Nigerians from their own land. Sir K’s lawyer assured us that the Afarioguns could not be barred except by the order of the court.
Sir K ‘s people were also restrained from going into the land. The following weekend, my clients were there to make sacrifices to their ancestors. While they were seated in the shrine, police from Ogijo came, the DPO CPS Tijani and DCO with their men to beat up my client, took their children to Ogijo police station on the excuse that they heard the Afarioguns were cultists.
Nine Afariogun members were taken to the police station and locked up with hardened criminals. Despite my physical presence and the letters I wrote, CSP Tijani refused to grant them bail.
On Monday morning, as early as 4am, my clients were taken to Sagamu. By 8am, they were taken to the Magistrate Court where they were arraigned on a trumped-up charge of assaulting the DCO. The matter is still in court.
So have they been granted bail or are they still in the prison custody?
The Magistrate understood what was going on because he knew that was not the first time Sir K would bring people through the Ogijo police station on rubbish charges. I wrote several letters to Tijani, the DPO in charge of Ogijo police station. He never showed any concern, all he was interested in was to protect Sir K. I met Tijani one-on-one and told him. He met the Afarioguns on a Saturday with their wives and children in their shrine and only arrested and charged nine of their children to court.
During the cross-examination, police were asked how did they knew the Afariogun’s location. They said they got information that some cultists were at Ijode, another village sharing boundary with Itapara, and they saw people moving towards that place. They were asked what the men were doing when they were arrested. The police witnesses confirmed they saw my clients sitting down and eating. They were asked if they looked like cultists. The police witness said no but because they said they attacked their men. He was further asked if these men before the court could be cultists but they could not answer. So, you can see that the whole thing was instigated by Sir K and his men.
So why were the judgments against Sir K not enforced up till this moment?
Naturally, it is the duty of the police to enforce court judgement and also protect the integrity of the court and the judgement of the court but in Ogijo, I will tell you that Sir K dictates what happens. Pa Nofiu Ogbara Afariogun, one of my clients who went to his house at Itapara after everybody was driven out, was beaten by Sir K and his men and this old man’s wrist got broken.
The case was reported to Ogijo Police Station. Rather than investigate, CPS Tijani told Nofiu Ogbara to go and treat himself. He said the police could not arrest Sir K. Tijani said this straight to the man’s face after he made him write a statement. Go to Ogijo police station, every policeman there dreads Sir K. The entire village has been taken by Sir K. He has driven every family out of the place and he is in control. He even told me on the phone to bring the judge who gave the judgment against him to the land and see if he would not bury him alive.