Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu
The last may not have been heard on the lingering land dispute at the Magodo Phase II Estate in Lagos as a Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP) on Tuesday publicly defied the order of the state governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, to vacate the premises.
Amid a protest by residents, Governor Sanwo-Olu arrived at the estate in company with some members of his cabinet, including the Commissioner for Justice and Attorney-General of the state, Mr Moyosore Onigbanjo, and the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Gbenga Omotoso, among others.
The governor engaged the yet-to-be-identified CSP who led the 50-man police team on the operation from Abuja and asked them to vacate the estate.
But the police officer affirmed that his team would only leave the premises on the directive of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Inspector General of Police who had deployed them on the assignment.
“Please, can you call your superior in Abuja that you need to deactivate, and you need to leave Lagos now?” said the governor who was surrounded by government officials, residents, and journalists.
“Can you call your superior in Abuja and tell them that the governor is here, and I am the Chief Security Officer, and that you don’t have any business being in my state right now and that I want you to disengage forthwith from here?”
‘Call Them Directly’
In his response, the defiant officer wearing a green polo shirt and a brown cap said, “Thank you very much, sir. Your Excellency sir, I’m not here on my own order.
“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. Your Excellency sir, with due respect sir, you can call them directly sir so that they can tell us to come.”
Before the arrival of the governor, residents of the estate had staged a protest to condemn the planned takeover of their properties.
They decried the invasion of the estate by a team of policemen alleged to be providing security for court bailiffs said to have sealed some properties in the enforcement of a Supreme Court judgement.
Carrying placards with various inscriptions to vent their concerns, the residents also faulted the continued presence of the police team despite an earlier intervention by the governor.
Despite being informed by Governor Sanwo-Olu who hinted that he had contacted the AGF and that the latter said he had no knowledge that the police team was still at the estate, the CSP insisted, “It is not my duty to call because I am too low to do that sir.”
Thereafter, the governor asked the leader of the police team to give an account of the number of policemen at the estate.
“I have several of them, sir. I cannot precisely tell you how many we are,” the CSP replied the governor. “I know the number of my men here sir, we sought for some other people to join us. But for security purpose, I cannot say this is the figure, sir.”
Obviously dissatisfied with the response and action of the defiant police officer, Governor Sanwo-Olu declared the presence of the security team at the estate as illegal.
He also questioned the motive behind the operation, stressing that the issue only involved the state government and had nothing to do with the residents in the first place.
“It is a very illegal operation,” said a visibly angry governor. “They (policemen) are not from the Lagos State Police Command. They said they are from Abuja, and I don’t know what other interests they have beyond keeping the peace of the country.
“This is not an expectation that I would expect for them because they don’t have any business here at all. The case is between the state government, and I am the governor standing in front of you, not with my residents.”