Again, two village heads draw battle line in Ibeju-Lekki
By Kehinde Aderemi
Few months after a leadership tussle triggered off a crisis in Okegun-Odofin, a sleepy community in Ibeju-Lekki area of Lagos, another issue is again threatening the tranquillity of the area.
This time, Chief Shamsudeen Ogunkoya, Ajagungbade of Okegun-Odofin, and Chief Mufutau Olamiji, Baale of Aladeseso, a neighbouring community, seem to have drawn the battle line. The attempted theft of dredging pipes in the care of Ogunkoya allegedly by agents of the Baale of Aladeseso is the cause of the brewing feud.
Chief Shamsudeen Ogunkoya is the elder brother to the Baale of Okegun-Odofin, Chief Ismaila Ogunkoya. For long, a leadership tussle has pitted the younger Ogunkoya and Olamiji against each other. The Ogunkoyas have accused the Baale of Aladeseso of seeking to appropriate their territory with the connivance of the Onibeju of Ibeju-Lekki, Oba Rafiu Olusegun Salami.
So what was the cause of the current crisis? The reporter gathered that Mr. Akin Akinwale, of Jaak Limited, an engineering and marine service company, had put some dredging pipes in the care of the Ajagungbade of Okegun-Odofin, Chief Shamsudeen Ogunkoya.
Ogunkoya explained that he was visiting his brother’s palace one afternoon when he noticed a brawl among some youths trying to extort money from the driver of a truck loaded with some dredging pipes.
He stated that while attempting to pacify the youths, he decided to look at the pipes inside the truck and was shocked when he discovered that the pipes looked exactly like the ones in his care. He said he then queried the truck driver and his attendants and was baffled when he was informed that it was the Baale of Aladeseso who contracted the truck driver and his boys to remove the pipes.
He said: “I was shocked that the pipes looked so much like the pipes I was asked to keep. So I immediately sent two young men to rush to the waterfront where the pipes were kept and see if they were still there. The boys came back and told me that the pipes were no longer there. I still refused to believe it, so I went there myself to check, and I discovered that the pipes they were taking away were actually mine. So I quickly invited the police from the Akodo Police Station to arrest the guys and the truck.”
Chief Ogunkoya lamented that the police were not professional in the handling of the case. He said he had expected the police to invite himself and the Baale of Aladeseso for interrogation but regretted that the police were not interested in that: “What they have been asking me to do is to come to the station and close the case.”
Asked if there had been any communication between himself and the Baale of Aladeseso since the incident, Chief Ogunkoya replied in the affirmative.
He explained that: “When I confronted him, he denied and said the pipes were his own. He said 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 them. I asked him to produce the receipt of purchase but he could not.
“At the police station, the Baale started claiming that someone owed him some money, about N5 million and the person was not willing to pay. He then sent his boys to confiscate the person’s dredging pipes.”
Police officers at the Akodo Police Division were not willing to speak on the matter. A truck loaded with long, black pipes was parked opposite the station.
The Divisional Police Officer (DPO), Mr. Adebayo, a Chief Superintendent of Police, who spoke on the telephone, denied that the police were unwilling to investigate the matter. He insisted that Ajagungbade had yet to report the incident to him personally, adding that he would call the parties involved for a discussion once he was properly briefed. He denied the allegation of compromise on the part of the police.
While confirming that the truck and its load were in police custody, the police boss explained that he was being careful not to release the truck and its contents to the wrong person.
Mr. Akin Akinwale, who owned the contentious pipes, explained that he took them to Okegun-Odofin for dredging purposes, adding that he had also bought some land in the area. He said he decided to suspend work on the land when he discovered that there were controversies over land issues in the area. He said he gave the pipes to Chief Ogunkoya for safe-keeping, adding that the community leader was also keeping watch over his landed properties in the area.
He claimed that he was shocked when he got a call one afternoon to proceed to the Akodo Police Station to identify a truck containing some pipes. He got there and discovered that the pipes were his, and four of them were missing.
“After that, Baale of Aladeseso called me, begging me. He said his boys gave him the wrong information that the pipes belonged to someone that was owing him a huge amount of money. He said we should meet and talk about it, but I haven’t gone to see him, as I do not stay in Lagos. He promised to replace the missing pipes with some parcels of land. I initially asked him to put it into writing, but I later asked the Baale to discuss with Ajagungbade, whom I had instructed to be in charge of the pipes,” he explained.
Attempts to speak with the Baale were unsuccessful. When a call was put across to him, Chief Olamiji said he was at a meeting and would return the call. But he never did.
Some community leaders in the area noted, however, that the Baale couldn’t have stolen the pipes, insisting that the pipes must have been taken in error.
It was gathered that the Onibeju of Ibeju-Lekki, Oba Salami, had issued warnings to community leaders and other influential persons in the area to shun any acts capable of bringing odium to the community.
“We hope the Onibeju would do the needful in this case, especially as the Baale of Aladeseso is his man,” Chief Ogunkoya said.