There was chaos on Saturday at a housing estate in the suburb of Abuja, as a security official allegedly assaulted a woman he was trying to stop from building a perimeter fence around her house.
Loice Benjamin-Anyawueze was allegedly beaten in front of her house at the Redeemer Excellent Men Housing Estate, Pyakassa Lugbe, by two officials of the private outfit securing the estate, Pentho Security Guard Limited.
The Redeemed Christian Church of God last year published a disclaimer of the management of the estate in some national dallies following complaints by subscribers that the church committee appointed to administer the private housing development scheme was mismanaging the funds.
Mrs. Benjamin-Anyawueze said she was later escorted by a police officer to a medical centre in Pyakassa for treatment after she reported the incident at the Lugbe divisional police headquarters in Abuja.
Narrating the incident to PREMIUM TIMES on Saturday, Mrs. Benjamin-Anyawueze complained that security authorities had refused to act on her report of the incident .
“I decided to run to the press because the security agencies, police and Civil Defence which are meant to protect me are failing me. I am no longer safe and I am scared for the lives of my family,” she told Premium Times on Saturday.
“The security agencies are saying they are investigating, and I am asking how long the investigation will take? Is it until they kill me?”
According to the house owner, the problem started two weeks ago when she brought in workers to erect a perimeter fence around her house because her home had been experiencing security challenges.
She said that unknown people had on several occasions intruded to harrass members of her family in her house.
“Though we have security men manning the main estate gate, other places are porous because the estate is not fenced. This is not the first issue of insecurity in the estate and we residents use another security agency to guard our homes.
Mrs. Benjamin-Anyawueze said problem started immediately the “self-acclaimed management of the estate” realised she was erecting a fence.
She said although she received no information from the management not to build the fence, some security guards soon arrived and claimed they were sent to stop the work because the house owner was owing the infrastructure development fee.
She said the management charges house owners infrastructure fee to carry out any development such as roads and drainages in the estate.
“I had refused to pay them any money ever since the Redeemed Christian Church of God published a disclaimer of the management of the estate in national dallies, saying anyone doing business with ‘the unscrupulous people’ was doing so at their own risk.”
The Redeemer Excellent Men Housing Estate sprouted from the Excellent Men Fellowship (EMF), a group in the Resurrection Chapel Parish of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) in Lugbe.
The scheme has been enmeshed in allegations of irregularities, fraud, misappropriation of funds and hi-jacking of ownership by members of the committee appointed by house owners to administer.
This led to a fracas among subscribers of the scheme which prompted the national headquarters of the RCCG to wade in.
The church later washed its hands off the scheme and published a disclaimer in some dailies that the scheme should no longer be associated with the church.
According to Mrs. Benjamin-Anyawueze, due to the development, many subscribers to the scheme who had been allocated land resolved no longer to do business with the indicted management committee of the estate.
“They therefore decided to unleash terror on people who do not agree with their dealings and had been asking for accountability. Moreover, why should I pay when we cannot see what they did with previous money paid? Everybody dug their drainage themselves, so why should I pay?” she said.
Mrs. Benjamin-Anyawueze alleged that the estate management had on a previous occasion induced a security agency to harass her.
She said the security head of Pentho Security Guard, Solomon Salako, once got her arrested six times within 24 hours, through three different police stations.
“They have stopped many people from working on their properties by recruiting the security personnel to unleash mayhem to enforce their laws and orders. The guards that beat me up said they have order from Salako to stop me from doing any work on my property. In fact, one of the guards said Salako gave them orders to beat me and tie me up if I resist,” she added.
She said she reported the assault to the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) because it is in charge of private security agencies.
The NSCDC called for a meeting twice but the security agency refused to show up, she said.
An eyewitness to Saturday’s incident, Valentine Ihieri, who is a neighbour of Mrs. Benjamin-Anyawueze , told PREMIUM TIMES that the problem which led to the assault was not a new development in the estate.
Mr. Ihieri said he was on his way out of his home when he saw two Pentho guards conversing with Mrs. Benjamin-Anyawueze.
According to him, he parked his car to join the conversation as they were telling her to stop building.
He said the divisional police officer had earlier told all parties to go and settle things amicably in the estate or go to court.
“I was still explaining to them that they do not have the jurisdiction to stop her when two other staff of the security outfit joined them. They came and said they had orders from their boss, Salako, to stop her from building and descended on her. ”
PREMIUM TIMES had previously reported a crisis in the estate last year when management committee locked out some residents in a bid to force them to pay a controversial police security fee.
Many of the residents had refused paying the fee, saying they could not see the effect of the security service as they were still being robbed.
The residents said they were responsible for security in the estate using local vigilante and police officers, when they suspected discrepancies in the deals of the estate management with the police.
The DPO Lugbe Divisonal Headquarters, Tunde Kabiru, in a telephone interview with PREMIUM TIMES, confirmed Saturday’s alleged assault on Mrs. Benjamin-Anyawueze.
He however said he could not give much information on the case because the file of the case was not yet on his table.
When PREMIUM TIMES contacted Mr. Salako on Sunday, he said he does not comment on official matters at the weekend.
He however did not pick calls or respond to text messages to his phone on Monday.
Officials of the management committee of the estate also did not pick their calls or respond to text messages from the reporter.
Management of the estate has been a source of controversy as some residents alleged that fees they paid for infrastructure upgrade like roads and drainage construction were misappropriated. It was the complaint that prompted the disclaimer of the entire scheme and its management by RCCG, the Nigerian Pentecostal church to which the initiators of the scheme belong.