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Idowu Owohunwa

15.06.2024 Featured Police Commander Gbenga Olorunfemi Wants N16m Game Arena Closed in Nasarawa Because ‘Paintball Marker Is a Threat’

Published 15th Jun, 2024

By Emmanuel Uti

Before Usman Mairamri opened the Mairamri Paintball Arena, a recreational facility in Keffi, Nasarawa State, in 2023, he ensured to introduce his business to the Keffi police command and other security agencies, but Gbenga Olorunfemi, the newly appointed area commander of the Keffi Area Command, now wants the business shut down.

Mairamri told FIJ that since Olorunfemi’s appointment as area commander, he has been living in constant fear.

The trouble began on the morning of June 3 when a police officer barged into the arena and inquired if he could play games, to which Mairamri affirmed. While conversing with this officer, two other armed policemen entered and questioned Mairamri about the premises, specifically focusing on what they believed was a gun. Mairamri clarified it was a paintball marker, but they insisted it was a firearm.

READ ALSO: FACT-CHECK: Man Claiming ‘ASP Diko’ Jailed Him for 10 Years Is a Serial Testifier Defrauding Different Churches

“They said the area commander wanted to see me. Shocked, I told them I notified the police when I opened this place and had a copy of the letter. I showed them the acknowledged letter, but they insisted I follow them to the area commander’s office,” Mairamri told FIJ.

After arguing for a while on whether to go to the area commander’s office via the route the police officers insisted on, Mairamri drove with the officers to the office. On arrival, the area commander, who was outside, exclaimed upon seeing the paintball marker, “Is this not a gun?”

The letter written to the police
The letter written to the police

“I explained it was not a gun and described how a paintball marker works, but he refused to understand and started shouting. He ordered that I go give a statement. He asked his men why they came with only one of my paintball markers, saying that the markers were no longer my property but the police’s,” Mairamri recounted.

While giving his statement, Mairamri detailed how he conceived the idea and notified the police before opening the arena, showing them the acknowledged copy. After submitting his statement, he requested his acknowledgment copy back, but the area commander refused.

“They asked me to come back the following day, which I did around 10 a.m. He asked what I would do. I reexplained the nature of the game. He said he understood but declared I couldn’t remain there because I was a threat to him. I told him I couldn’t shut down just because he perceived me as a threat,” said Mairamri.

READ ALSO: FACT-CHECK: Lagos CP Lied. Gas Gun Taken From Robbery Suspect Is Paintball Marker Popular in Lagos

“I spent over N16 million on developing this place. I invested significant money in this. How do you expect me to shut down? I tried to explain, but he insisted I should close because that was his order. I suggested continuing with other games like snooker and archery while he investigated, but he refused.”

Mairamri stated that the area commander concluded that if anyone was found in the arena, they would be brutalised and his men would arrive without warning. Mairamri said he wrote to the State Commissioner of Police but received no response as promised.

Days later, the area commander visited the arena and saw other games like table tennis and snooker. He said that the snooker board attracted criminals and threatened to revoke the land on which the arena operates.

When FIJ called Olorunfemi, the area commander, for comments on the matter, he asked this reporter to call him back, but upon doing so, he claimed he was in a speeding vehicle. FIJ sent a text to Olorunfemi’s phone on Thursday, but he has not responded.

This is not the first time a Nigerian police officer has mistaken a paintball marker for a gun. On September 3, 2023, many reports stated that Idowu Owohunwa, Commissioner of Police in Lagos State, claimed that Lagos police discovered a unique gas gun, the first of its kind in Nigeria, after arresting its possessor. But this claim was soon revealed to be far off the mark. 

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Published 15th Jun, 2024

By Emmanuel Uti

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