A 67-year old man, Mutairu Owoeye, and his son, Ganiyu, 42, on Tuesday appeared before an Igbosere magistrate’s court over alleged invasion of 15 villages in Ibeju Lekki local government area of Lagos State.
The accused were arrested last week Monday following a petition by the villagers to the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, that they were under the siege of land grabbers.
The father and son were arraigned before Magistrate A. O Awogboro on a five-count charge of attempted murder, being in possession of firearms, unlawful invasion, stealing and illegal demolition of properties worth millions of naira.
The defendants, who are property developers, were said to reside at KM 36, Abeokuta Expressway, and 5, Owoeye Street, Sango Ota, Atan local government area of Ogun State respectively.
According to the charge sheet, the Owoeyes and others at large, at about 8 a.m. on April 17 invaded the 15 villages in Ibeju Lekki with different types of guns and other offensive weapons to illegally demolish the houses of the villagers.
The affected villages were listed as Oko Olomi, Olowu Oko-Olomi, Adeba (Jaguna), Itapampa Adeba (Onikonko), Oko-Ile, Oko Idioro, Idi Ope and Adeba, located on 1561 hectares of land.
The accused allegedly destroyed the property of 45 persons in the villages and carted away properties, including three vehicles valued at N7 million and 150 cows.
The younger Owoeye, Ganiyu, was also alleged to have unlawfully attempted to kill one Saheed Oloore by shooting him with a gun.
The charge further stated that Ganiyu was found in possession of three pump action guns and a double barrel gun with two live cartridges when he was arrested in a hotel.
According to the prosecution, the offences are punishable under sections 409, 56, 285, 348, 228 of the Criminal laws of Lagos 2011 and Sections 27 (1) (a) (i) of firearms Act, Cap F28, F28, of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.
However, the defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Their counsel, A. O Isaacs, urged the court to grant the defendants bail on liberal term, citing Section 115 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law, which states that the offences for which they were arraigned are bailable.
He said the defendants had been in detention in Abuja since Tuesday last week and were brought by road to Lagos for trial.
Mr. Isaacs also said the defendants brought development to the area at issue and that they own property worth N400 million.
The prosecutor, Kehinde Oluwole, a superintendent of police, opposed the bail application on the ground that the case was still under investigation.
While ruling on the bail application, the magistrate, Mrs. Awogboro, overruled the prosecution’s objection and granted the defendants bail in the sum of N2 million, with two sureties who must be blood relations of the defendants.
She said the sureties must also produce evidence of substantial means of livelihood, tax payment and verified addresses.
She adjourned the case till December 15 for mention.