Developer sends SOS to Ambode, IGP
By Olajiire Ishola
A land developer, Alhaji Saheed Omotoso has appealed to Governor Akinwumi Ambode of Lagos State and the Inspector General of Police, (IGP), Ibrahim Idris, to save him from the hand of Aare Ogboni Oladapo Olufowora.
Omotoso alleged Olufowora wanted a land located at number 22, University Road, Abule-Oja, Akoka, close to the University of Lagos. The piece of the land belonged to the Aborigine Ogboni Fraternity of Nigeria and Overseas (African Brotherhood Lodge).
He said a member of the fraternity; Mr. Rasaq Onafowokan, introduced him to members of the fraternity in September last year: “We arranged for a meeting with the committee in-charge of the land. We agreed that I would pay N1million to the members, which I paid. I paid another N300,000 to the leader of the fraternity in the person of Aare Oladapo Olufowora, the Aare Ona Kakanfo of Ibeju-Lekki Kingdom.
“We all agreed that the occupants of the shops on the land should be given till January this year for them to vacate the land. In January, myself and the leader of the fraternity supervised their leaving. Some of the occupants were even given money to relocate. We agreed that I should commence work on it before the start of rains.
“When we were entering into agreement, the land did not have a single paper. I went to do Survey, Plan, Soil testing offices. We went to the Lagos State Building Control for the necessary papers. I did the architectural and the structural drawings and other papers needed for commencement of the project.
“On April 1, we moved to the site and started work. The workers were still on site when Aare Olufowora came. My workers called me that he ordered them to stop work. I came immediately, I asked him why we have to stop the work, he could not give any reason. He just said he was no longer interested in us doing the job. I told him that he couldn’t stop us just like that. We did not breech the agreement between us. I told him that most of the money I am using came from bank loan.
“At this point, he started calling members of his fraternity that we were beating him. When the other members came, they saw how far we had gone with the work, they could not say anything. They appealed to him to let them meet at their shrine on Apapa Road, Ebute-Metta to settle it amicably. They promised to get back to me and we continue the work.
“On Sunday April 2, we were casting the pillars, Olufowora came with about 17 thugs. They started beating the workers, destroying the pillars. He brought out a voodoo horn (Afose), threatening to kill me, if I failed to stop work immediately. I rushed to the Sabo Police Station to complain.
“The police came and arrested two of the thugs, because he had left the scene and other thugs escaped. When we got to the station, I wrote my statement and those two thugs wrote theirs. Those who linked me to the fraternity came, they appealed to me so that those boys could be bailed for the amicable resolution of the issue, which I obliged. The police then took their bail and asked us to come on Monday, April 3, for final resolution.
“On Monday, I went to the station, but they did not turn up. I was at the station till 8:00pm. On Tuesday, I wrote a petition to Panti Police Station, they called him, he did not turn up, the police gave me one officer. We went to his house, everywhere was locked, later in the evening I was told he came and wrote his statement, I was told he was directed to come the following day.
“When we got there the following day, the police ordered us to bring out the agreement between us, we both produced it. The police asked why was he causing trouble when I was following the agreement laid down. They asked him what he wanted.
“He said he had lost interest in it that all he wanted was for me to stop the work. They told him that I have committed huge money into the project and that I did not breech any agreement, he should allow me to continue, he refused. They said they would charge the case to court for malicious damage and breech of public peace.
“They asked us to come back on Friday April 7. On that Friday, I went to the station, but he failed to turn up again. The police at Panti told me that he had gone to Police Command at Ikeja. I am now appealing to the IGP and Ambode to save me from this man.”
When contacted, Olufowora said the story told by Omotoso was not correct. He claimed he did not know Omotoso from anywhere. He said it was a member of the fraternity, Chief Rasaq Onafowokan, who he made assistant secretary of the fraternity that brought him. He said the land in question had been acquired in 1938 and Iledi (shrine) was built on it. He said he mobilised Onafowokan to repair the whole shrine, but after the repair, the problem persisted. He said along the line, he brought Omotoso as a developer:
“After much discussion agreement was reached. That a worship hall (Iledi Abalaye) and three shops would be given to the fraternity and that a two-storey building with pent house of two-bedroom flat would be built and that the place would be strictly residential.”
Aare insisted that up till Omotoso started work, he did not show him any plan, the design or related papers. He said what concerned him most is the worship centre. He said he even asked the Apena Rasaq Onafowokan and Oluwo of the Iledi to inform Baale Abule-Oja not to disturb them when they started the work:
“The problem started when I got to the site and discovered that Omotoso wanted to build only shops. I disagreed because the place is a worship centre, which can never accommodate commercial activities.”
He said Omotoso would not want to reason with him “and this led to the disagreement.”