Residents of a section of Majidun, along the Ikorodu Road, Lagos have raised the alarm, alleging that Naval personnel have taken over their community and enforcing the law as if the community is in a state of emergency.
Residents told our correspondents that the naval personnel (stationed there to prevent the activities of oil thieves) ejected residents from a street and took over their houses.
When our correspondents visited the area last Wednesday, Chief Owoyele Street close to the creek running through the community, was barricaded with a metal bar, which our correspondents learnt was installed by the naval personnel, keeping residents away from their homes since November 2014. The street taken over by the naval personnel is estimated to have nothing less than 70 houses. Our correspondents saw an armoured tank stationed at the entrance of the street.
Meanwhile, the residents alleged that some young women – married and unmarried – have been raped by the naval personnel, who also allegedly tortured residents at will.
In order to verify the rape claim, our correspondents were taken to the home of 48-year-old Obioma Okampu, an Ebonyi State indigene. A large obituary posted on the wall showed that Okampu died on August 10, 2015.
A resident, who pleaded anonymity, told Saturday PUNCH that one of the naval personnel was raping Okampu’s wife on August 10, 2015, when the deceased was attracted by his wife’s screams.
“He saw what was happening to his wife but immediately the naval personnel saw him, they tried to catch him and he ran. As he tried to cross the BRT lane on Ikorodu Road while running away, he was hit by a coming rapid transit bus and he died on the spot,” the source said.
It was learnt that Naval authorities paid for his corpse to be taken for burial in Ebonyi State.
Okampu’s one room apartment was under lock and key when our correspondent visited the house.
How I escaped death – Resident shot by naval rating
On August 24, a drunken naval rating reportedly shot three residents of the community as part of his ‘birthday celebration’. Two of the victims have been discharged from the Lagos University Teaching Hospital where they were taken to for treatment by the navy personnel. Doctors say the third victim, 48-year-old tipper driver and father of five, Olanrewaju Agbonoja, may never be able to use his right hand again as a result of the gunshot injury he sustained there.
Speaking to our correspondent about the incident, Agbonoja said he cried when he was told he might not be able to use his hand again.
“These hands bring food to my family’s table. These are what I use to send my children to school. These are what I use to feed my family,” he said.
Agbonoja, an Ondo State indigene, explained that he was merely standing in the front of his vehicle in the tipper park at Majidun, when the unidentified naval rating came in to challenge him.
He said, “That was not the first time other naval personnel would see us at the tipper garage. They even come around sometimes to chat with us. I have not seen him among the naval personnel stationed there before.
“He asked me what I was doing there and I was confused on why he was asking me that. Everybody knew the place as a tipper garage. I told him that I was a tipper driver. Before I knew what was happening, he had raised his gun and shot me in the hand. I fell down screaming. I did not know what I did wrong. That same day, I heard he shot two other people in other parts of Majidun.
“His colleagues later rushed us to the Ikorodu General Hospital. They did not allow our family members to see us or even come near us at the hospital. Later, we were transferred to LUTH. Navy is the one paying for our feeding and treatment currently. Please, the people have to know what we are going through. I did nothing wrong. I was merely going about my normal job. Now I would never be able to do that anymore.”
Agbonoja said his father’s house in Majidun is one of the houses taken over by the naval personnel.
His young pregnant wife, Deborah, was close to tears when she spoke with our correspondent. According to her, their family would suffer if her husband is not able to work.
The then Information Officer of the Western Naval Command, Lt. Commander Abdulsalam Sani (who has since been transferred), had said that the naval rating involved in the shooting of residents of Majidun would be disciplined at the end of an investigation into the incident.
My granddaughter escaped being raped by naval rating – Residents
A resident of the community, Mrs. Taiwo Azeez, narrated how her granddaughter was almost raped by one of the naval ratings in the community.
She told Saturday PUNCH that on the day the naval rating shot some residents, her son, a bus driver, was with his 15-year-old daughter to buy an electric bulb in the night when they were sighted by a naval rating.
She said, “The Naval man called him and asked him where they were going. He also asked who the girl was and my son said she was his daughter. He told my son to lie inside a gutter filled with dirty water and start rolling in it.
“While my son was doing that, the naval man dragged my granddaughter to one of the houses that they had taken over. As soon as my son realised that the Naval man was out of sight, he stood up and ran here to call me. We went back there in search of the girl but we did not see her.
“We immediately went to report the case to the police. Later, someone informed us that the girl had been found. My granddaughter said the man was about To Molest her when one of his colleagues saw him. The colleague was the one who rescued my daughter and took her out of the house. The police simply told us to forget the matter because there was nothing we could do against the military men,” she said.
‘Naval personnel force residents to drink gutter water as punishment’
More details emerged on the kind of treatment residents of Majidun suffer in the hands of naval personnel stationed in the area as our correspondents went around the community.
Chairman of the Community, Rev. Oloyede Egbodofo, explained that the naval personnel in the community are notorious for punishing residents of the community by forcing them to drink water from the gutter.
He said, “You will notice that the street has been locked up by the military men. Anytime they catch a resident walking around the street, they either ask you to lie inside a filled up gutter and roll in it or they would order you to drink water from the gutter.
“How long will naval personnel continue to occupy our homes? No government official has given any explanation on why we should be going through since almost a year ago that they moved here. The way we are treated here, it is as if we are in a state of emergency. They do whatever they like with our women and beat our men.
“There is no pipeline installation in this community. The only reason they are here is that some of the pipeline vandals and oil thieves use the river here as a transit point. Is that a reason why scores of people should be chased away from their homes?”
A resident, Mr. Omoyele Olusola, lamented that many residents, who were ejected from their homes, now take shelter in churches around the community, Saturday PUNCH learnt.
“Government should urgently come to our rescue and recover our houses from these men. It is sad that we are going through this when we are not under a state of emergency,” he said.
When our correspondent contacted the assistant spokesperson of the command, Titilayo George, to speak on the different allegations lodged by the residents, she said she would call back. When she was contacted again the following day, she said she was in a meeting and had not called back as of the time of filing this report