Justice Lilian Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Federal High Court has ordered the officers of the Nigeria Navy to appear before her and explain why they failed to arraign Saibu Ogunmola, the Chairman/Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Peace and Love International Hotel, who has been in their custody since January 17, 2019.
The court gave the order while ruling on an application seeking temporary release of the hotelier. The matter was hereby adjourned till May 3, report of compliance.
Other respondents also affected by the order are the Chief of Naval Staff, the Commander NNS Beecroft, Apapa, Lagos and the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA), Abuja.
The application, which was a motion ex-parte filed by the lawyer to the hotelier, Mc Anthony Aikharialea, asked the court for an order granting the applicant bail forthwith from the respondents’ detention pending the determination of main suit.
It also asked for an order compelling the respondents or any other agency to appear before the court with the applicant to show cause why the applicant should not be arraigned for whatever offence alleged against him, having gone beyond reasonable time to do so.
The hotelier’s lawyer also informed the court that all efforts made to see his client were frustrated by the respondents.
An affidavit deposed to by a cousin to detained hotelier, Sodiq Raji, averred that he knows Ogunmola very well, being a businessman and native of Ilashe village in Amuwo Odofin Local Government Area, Lagos State.
He averred that the applicant being a businessman do spend most of his time at Snake Island, where his hotel is located, but always in touch with virtually everybody in the village and guides the youth against nefarious acts.
The deponent further stated that at some points, the life of the applicant was threatened seriously by the vandals, which caused him not to be sleeping in the village because the vandals believes that the applicant is a pipeline security agent/informant.
The deponent also stated that on January 16, 2019, he was with the applicant in his hotel at lgbo-Eseyore, Snake island, Lagos, at about 11.30pm when another cousin of his residing at llashe called him to inform him that some naval officers were in the area (Ilashe) doing some search and in the process found some kegs and some of the kegs they found contained Premium Motor Spirit (PMS). And that the applicant, indeed, advised his cousin, Semiu to make sure he stay indoors and must not obstruct the naval officers’ search.
He also stated that at some point, the applicant’s cousin called again to inform him that there was a problem, resulting from one of the naval officers attempt to set the recovered kegs with PMS ablaze and got burnt in the process. And that the hotelier who was restless when he heard about the ongoing accident involving one of the naval officers quickly instructed his cousin to get other persons around to give the naval officers possible assistance and rescue the officer involved.
The hotelier’s lawyer, therefore, urged the court to either grant bail to his client in the most liberal terms or compel the respondents, especially the DIA or any other agency they may want to hand him over, to produce him in court forthwith for possible arraignment (if any).
The lawyer also undertook to ensure that reliable sureties are provided if the applicant’s application is granted and ensure that he is present in court whenever the matter comes up until the full determination of the case against him (if any).