The leaders of Okunraiye community, one of the host communities of the Lekki Free Trade Zone in Ibeju Lekki, Lagos, have attributed the death of Tajudeen Disu to a stray bullet fired by the police.
In an affidavit in support of a fundamental rights enforcement suit filed at a Lagos High Court, on Tuesday, the community said that it had no hand in Mr. Disu’s death.
Mr. Disu, the Managing Director of the Lekki Free Trade Zone, was shot dead on October 12 during a clash between mobile police officers and youth of Okunraiye community.
The community were protesting the “forceful acquisition” of their land by the Lagos State government.
Less than 24 hours after the incident, the police said it had arrested 10 suspects in connection with the shooting.
Surajudeen Salami, who deposed to the affidavit on behalf of the community, said government forced them out of their homes as well as deprived them of their means of livelihoods – farming and fishing.
Mr. Salami recalled that on October 12, the community leaders agreed to meet with Dangote Group to discuss the use of their land for a project by the company, especially the provision of job opportunities for youths of the community.
According to Mr. Salami, the community made several attempts to discuss with Dangote management but to no avail, forcing the youth to barricade the entrance into the company’s project site in an attempt to compel the company to discuss with the community with the possibility of a lasting solution to the outstanding issue.
At about 9 a.m., Mr. Salami said that he was informed that a large group of mobile police officers had surrounded the entrance of the project and were burning down the barricade and other obstruction erected by the youth.
He said at the time the crisis was going on, the Divisional Police Officer in charge of the community was at the palace of the Baale of Okunraiye to settle the matter.
”At that point, some members then rushed to the Baale’s House to inform him of a mayhem on-going outside and how the policemen had burnt down the barricade,” said Mr. Salami, who described himself as a principal member of the community.
“The DPO left Baale’s House to go and confirm the report.
“When I got there, I met the Managing Director of Lekki Free Trade Zone (LFTZ) Limited, Mr Tajudeen Disu; Alhaji Jegede, Chairman of Resettlement Committee, and the Baale of Igiye Community.
“When we were imploring Mr Disu, Alhaji Jegede and the Baale of Igiye Community to stop policemen from shooting because the members of Okunraye Community did not want to fight and only wanted to discuss with Dangote management, the police refused to stop shooting and then a stray bullet hit Mr Disu from behind and he died instantly.”
Mr. Salami said that a stray bullet also hit a young woman from the community who sustained injury on the arm.
He also said that he saw the policeman that pulled the trigger that killed Mr. Disu, and alleged that the police officers stopped shooting when they realized that a stray bullet had killed the LFTZ boss.
“Myself and others left the scene immediately to take the injured woman to the hospital, and by the time we came back, the remains of Disu had been removed from the scene.”
The applicants in the suit are Jubriala Balogun, Mr Akibu Razak, Alhaji Surajudeen Salami, Baale Yesiru Amusa (suing for themselves and on behalf of the people of Okunraye Town).
Joined as defendants are the Nigerian Police, Inspector General of Police, Lagos State Commissioner of Police, The Nigerian Army, Department of State Security (DSS), Special Anti-Robbery Squad, The Dangote Group and Ibeju Lekki Local Government.
They are seeking among others an order directing the respondents to release them unconditionally from custody, and an order declaring their arrest and continuous detention as wrongful and a sharp contravention of their fundamental human rights enshrined in Chapter 4 of the Constitution and Article 23 (1) (4) (5) (6) (7) , 12 (1) and 14 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Right (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, 2004.
They also want a declaration that the invasion of their community on October 12, 2015 and their subsequent arrests constituted a threat to life, freedom, and private and family life.
They further want a perpetual injunction restraining the respondents whether by themselves, agents, servants, privies or any other person acting on their behalf from arresting, detaining, harassing, invading Okunraye community or otherwise violating their fundamental human rights.
When the matter came up before Justice R.I.B Adebiyi on Tuesday, the applicants’ lawyer, Akinlabi Apara informed the court of an ex-parte application and other processes filed in the suit.
But Justice Adebiyi said she would not rush to take any hasty decision in the matter without studying the file.
She said the matter was just brought to her knowledge and that she needed time to understand the issues involved.
She then adjourned to October 21.