Lekan Fatodu, the man who attacked Sahara Reporters publisher, Omoyele Sowore, in Lagos in January, has petitioned Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, asking him to eject Mr. Sowore from his office in the city.
Mr. Fatodu claimed Mr. Sowore has an office in the Ikeja GRA part of the metropolis allegedly being used to commit crimes and disturb the peace of neighbours.
Mr. Sowore has dismissed the allegation as a proxy attack from powerful political interests in Nigeria.
The March 6 petition was written and dispatched by Mr. Fatodu’s legal representatives, J.C. Ifeonu & Co.
A copy was obtained by PREMIUM TIMES.
The petition said Mr. Sowore had allegedly been using the house at 13A Isaac John Street, Ikeja GRA, to coordinate illegal activities.
“We reckon Your Excellency is aware that parts of the consequences of breeding criminality within that choice neighbourhood are a relentless social disturbance, agitation, and protests, which we strongly believe would adversely impact the peace and tranquillity that businesses and residents within the area have been enjoying all this while.
“We humbly urge Your Excellency to swiftly apply your good offices to investigate this complaint with a view to determining culpability and to bringing the full force of the law to bear upon the criminal elements involved in this circumstance,” Mr. Fatodu said.
But Mr. Ambode’s office denied receiving such petition.
“We are not aware of any petition from any Lekan Fatodu,” Habib Haruna, a spokesperson for the governor, told PREMIUM TIMES Thursday night.
This medium however learnt that when Mr. Fatodu tried to submit the petition to Mr. Ambode, he was ignored, and then advised to route his complaints to the police.
The petition came about two months after Mr. Fatodu attacked Mr. Sowore in Lagos and ended up at the police station.
Mr. Sowore told PREMIUM TIMES at the time that he was attacked by Mr. Fatodu and his gang over a report by Sahara Reporters which detailed how Mr. Fatodu was allegedly used as front by former Aviation Minister, Femi Fani-Kayode, to corner public funds through the office of the National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki.
But Mr. Fatodu tweeted the same day that he “just got Sowore Omoyele of Saharareporters arrested for criminal defamation and blackmail and threat to my life and career.”
The police confirmed receipt of a petition bordering on criminal defamation from Mr. Fatodu, but summarily released all the parties that evening on the condition that they report back the same day.
When Mr. Sowore arrived at the State Criminal Investigation Department that was handling the matter, the police said they were more interested in “mediation”, asking Mr. Sowore to meet Mr. Fatodu to resolve their differences.
Mr. Sowore refused, saying the police was dishonest in the handling of the case.
Mr. Sowore’s attorney, Femi Falana, said on January 12 that the allegations of threat to life, criminal libel and extortion stated in Mr. Fatodu’s petition were false.
In his petition to Mr. Ambode, Mr. Fatodu admitted the police were yet to complete investigations into the defamation case, but said he was writing to support the governor’s efforts against crimes.
But an official in the governor’s office said Mr. Fatodu should direct his petition to the police.
“What is the business of the governor in the petition about disturbance?” the highly-placed official queried. “He should direct his petition to the police.”
Lagos police spokesman, Olarinde Famous-Cole, told PREMIUM TIMES Thursday night the command was not aware of the latest petition by Mr. Fatodu.
Mr. Sowore said the police had so far failed to file charges against him because it was clear they had no basis to do so.
The publisher dismissed the content of Mr. Fatody’s petition as “a product of wild emotions, feeble attempt at victimhood and willful distortion of facts.”
Mr. Sowore told PREMIUM TIMES the building in question will be used as a civil technology laboratory centre, a project in which SaharaReporters is collaborating with a several civil society organisations.
The publisher said Mr. Fatodu’s petition was part of an orchestrated plot by powerful Nigerian politicians, including Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and Dino Melaye, a senator.
Mr. Sowore said alleged “corrupt activities” of Mr. Saraki and others had become “a staple” on Sahara Reporters in recent weeks.
The platform had published several reports around the activities of Mr. Saraki and Mr. Melaye, including claims that the Senate President drew questionable accommodation allowances from tax papers and also sought to circumvent duties on importation of exotic vehicles.
Sahara Reporters was also responsible for Mr. Melaye’s brewing university degree scandal.
Mr. Saraki’s media aide, Yusuf Olaniyonu, denied Mr. Sowore’s allegations that his principal was sponsoring Mr. Fatodu.
“Outright lie. No iota of truth in it,” Mr. Olaniyonu said in a short message to PREMIUM TIMES Thursday night.
Calls and text messages to Mr. Melaye were neither answered not replied to Thursday night.