Two weeks ago, police officers deployed by Usman Alkali Baba, the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), arrived Magodo Estate Phase II with bulldozers to enforce a Supreme Court order giving ownership of over 500 plots of land in the estate to the Shangisha Landlord Association.
Residents of the estate, who feared that their houses might be demolished, resisted the officers by staging a series of protests. Despite arguments that the police have no right to take down houses in the estate until the court gives an express order to do so, the policemen continued to carry out the order they had received from their superior by manning the premises.
The face-off reached its peak when Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the Lagos State Governor, visited the estate on Tuesday. Sanwo-Olu berated the police for their “illegal” presence in the estate premises and asked Abimbola oyewole, a Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP) and leader of the police team, to take his men out of the estate and Lagos State.
But the latter resisted the governor, claiming he was acting on the strict orders of Abubakar Malami, the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), and the IGP.
“I am here on the instruction of the Inspector-General of Police, through the AGF. I am too small or too low to call them,” the CSP said in response to Sanwo-Olu’s request that he called his superiors.
“Please, can you call your superior in Abuja and tell them that the governor is here, and as the chief security officer, you don’t have any business to be in my state right now, and I want you to disengage?” The governor had asked.
While the treatment of the governor was condemned by several Nigerians, including the southwest governors, who described Malami’s action as an ”act of moral turpitude”, it was not the first of such moves by the AGF.
Here are some others:
SIEGE TO SAMBO DASUKI’S HOME
In November 2015, Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court, Abuja, reacted angrily to the siege to the home of Sambo Dasuki, former National Security Adviser, despite an earlier ruling he gave permitting the retired colonel to travel abroad for medical treatment.
Dasuki had been accused of stealing $2.1 billion under the guise of purchasing sophisticated arms for the country.
“My own orders would not be flouted,” the judge said, and then ordered that the AGF appear at the next hearing.
Rather than comply with the court order, Malami came out to justify the continued siege to Dasuki’s premises, stating that the former NSA adviser was being held over other allegations.
He did not state what the other allegations were. He said the continued siege by men of the Department of State Services (DSS) was in the public interest.
Dasuki was refused freedom, despite being granted bail by four different High Court judges. He was eventually freed in December 2019.
SIEGE TO JUSTICE MARY ODILI’S HOUSE
In October 2021, unknown security agents laid a siege to the Abuja home of Justice Mary Odili, a Supreme Court judge and wife of Peter Odili, a former governor of Rivers State.
When the invasion led to public outcry, none of the multiple security agencies in the country took responsibility for the action.
The police would later parade 14 suspects, whom Frank Mba, spokesman of the Nigeria Police Force, described as ‘impostors unknown to any of the nation’s security forces’, as the masterminds of the invasion.
The suspects were made up of serving and former police officers, soldiers, a lawyer, a journalist and a spiritualist. However, one of the men boldly said he was consulting for the AGF.
Although Malami immediately denied having any ties with the officer, many believed the accused could not just have brought him into the picture if he was not involved.
How the men were able to secure a genuine search warrant, which had been revoked by a Magistrate Court for want of evidence by the Malami-controlled Ministry of Justice, remains a mystery.
As things stand, the police officers stationed at Magodo Estate have refused to leave the premises despite the public condemnation that greeted their humiliation of the Lagos State Governor and chief security officer of the state.
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