Thugs beat up widow for refusing to sell property to developer

The property
The property

There were tears in Mrs Halima Abubakar’s eyes as she revealed how armed thugs stormed her home at Ikoyi, Lagos State and allegedly attempted to kill her and her 92-year-old mother, because she refused to sell her property to a developer. According to her, the two flats, which are now the bone of contention, are proceeds of her life work and savings.

Abubakar, 60, a widow, alleged that Mr Felix Ezeamama, a developer, was threatening to kill her in order to take over her two flats, ‘Flats A and B’ of Block A bungalow,’ 41 Alfred Rewane Road, Ikoyi, Lagos State because he knew she was poor and had no man to fight for her.

She alleged that Ezeamama with some thugs stormed her home, brutalising her and her 92-year-old mother. The thugs demolished one of the flats, also allegedly stole some of her trinkets and then left She reported the attack to the police and Ezeamama was arrested and later arraigned. He was, among other offences, charged for armed robbery. Abubakar revealed that since the attack on her and her aged mother, they had stopped sleeping in the house, fearful that her assailants might return to attack and kill them.

The woman further disclosed that after the attack, her mother was rushed to a private hospital, from where she was referred to Igbobi Orthopedic Hospital, to treat a fracture she sustained after allegedly being dragged on the ground. Abubakar, however, became devastated after the Lagos State Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) advised that the robbery charges levelled against Ezeamama be dropped.

Abubakar felt something was wrong with that advice. Recollecting the genesis of her troubles with Ezeamama, Abubakar said everything had to do with the flats she bought while in service. After she completed her full payment, a Certificate of Occupancy (C/O) was issued to all those who applied and completed their payments. She narrated: “I was living in my apartment with my family members and my 92-year-old mother, when the developer, Ezeamama, approached all occupants of the building. He said that he was interested in buying the properties.

After negotiation with the developer, other tenants and I, agreed to sell each flat for N7million. We made our minds known to him and he accepted. He paid other tenants N7million. When it was my turn, he said he would also pay me N7million. Each flat was supposed to be N7million. Since mine is two flats, he was supposed to pay me N14million.”

She continued with her narration: “One fateful day, I was outside with some of my family members when Ezeamama and some thugs invaded our compound. I was shocked. They pounced on me for no reason and forcibly collected the keys of the flats from me.

They beat up my 92-year-old mother, injured me and demolished one of the flats and then ran away. “I immediately rushed to Ikoyi Police Station to report the matter. Ezeamama was arrested and charged to court for robbery and attempted murder and unlawful demolition of property.”

Abubakar said that during the court proceedings at the Igbosere Magistrates Court on May 30, 2017, the court had ordered that Ezeamama be remanded in prison custody. The Chief Magistrate of the court, Mrs Abimbola Komolafe, gave the order following a remand application filed by a Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP), Mr Effiong Asuquo, working at the State Criminal Investigations and Intelligence Department (SCIID), Panti, Lagos State. It was Asuquo and his team that handled the investigation of the matter and later charged the matter to court.

The case file was later sent to DPP for further advice. Abubakar said: “To my surprise and that of everyone, DPP advised that Ezeamama be charged for illegal demolition of the property, assault and stealing contrary to the charges presented in court by the police based on investigations.”

It was learnt that the DPP had based its advice on the fact that the complainant, a retired civil servant, continued to reside in a Federal Government building four years after retirement. Police investigations, however, revealed that Abubakar was lawfully allocated Flats A and B of ‘Block A bungalow’ at 41 Alfred Rewane Road. She had been living there before and after her retirement from the Federal Civil Service.

The police told the court that Ezeamama and others at large, while armed with dangerous weapons such as guns, cutlasses and sledge hammers, invaded Abubakar’s property and demolished it. Police had also revealed in the course of investigation that Ezeamama and his partners, while demolishing the property, attempted to kill Abubakar and her 92-year-old mother. Abubakar also alleged that Ezeamama seized the opportunity to cart away some of her trinkets. Abubakar said what surprised her the most, was that in spite of glaring evidences against Ezeamama, DPP still went ahead to charge him with lesser charges.

She lamented: “Since he returned from prison, he had been threatening to deal with me ruthlessly. He said that no matter what I do,or don’t do, he would collect my property from me.” But reacting to some of Abubakar’s allegations, Ezeamama said: “The woman that accused me of demolishing her house is a criminal. She signed documents along with 14 others, whom I had already paid. She was paid the total amount of her money.

Thereafter, she refused to allow us to move into the property after she had received money from us. I leased the property to a company, after I had paid her. The company I leased the property to went to the house to clear the house with a legitimate court order. When the company was doing the clearing, Alhaja Halima Abubakar called policemen.

The policemen stopped the company that bought the property from carrying out works. Policemen chased the company that I leased the property to. I wrote to the Inspector General of Police about the matter. The woman was invited to Abuja, but she refused to honour the invitation.

To my surprise, she went to Oba of Lagos to cook up a story against me. I was arrested, and through a secret magistrate order charged to court and remanded in prison. I spent 16 days in prison before I was allowed to go. Whenever the matter was about to get judgement, she would withdraw it from the court; she has done it for about four times.” D u r i n g the interview with our correspondent, Ezeamama phone rang from his inner office. He went to pick it. When he came back, he said that he couldn’t speak further on the matter, because it was already in court. The charges against Ezeamama when dropped on DPP’s advice, allegedly sparked a controversy among stakeholders in the Lagos judiciary. It was gathered that some prosecutors from the SCIID, were sad.

They said that in spite of their efforts to rid the state of criminals, their efforts often end up in frustration because of DPP’s advice. It was said that many suspects that had been charged to court for various criminal offences had either been discharged or given lesser charges through the advice of DPP, which demoralizes the policemen who go about risking their lives to arrest suspects. An Assistant Superintendent of Police attached to Special Anti- Robbery Squad (SARS), Lagos State Command, who does not want his name in print said that the advice of DPP on some cases always demoralizes them in the fight against crime.

He said: “There was a time, I went as far as Republic of Togo to arrest a trans-border criminal. We eventually charged him to court for stealing and murder, but to the surprise of everybody, the charges were reduced to only stealing by the DPP. This particular suspect shot and killed many policemen in the course of hijacking vehicles from victims, and taking them to Benin Republic and Togo to sell.”

A policeman sergeant, attached to SARS, Ikeja, who identified himself simply as Abubakar, however said that DPP is not to blame because whatever the Investigating Police Officer (IPO) presented to court as evidence is what the court would also send to DPP for advice. He said: “As policemen, some of us don’t have the fear of God. After collecting money from families of the accused, we would rewrite a statement and present it in court. We’re the ones making arrest of suspects and taking their statements. Some policemen do these illegal things in order to make money. But those doing that forget that it’s only God that sustains one.

Whatever we do on earth, we are going to give account before our creator. Many people had been denied justice through DPP advice and Police meddling.” When the DPP was contacted for their reaction, our correspondent was directed to the Attorney General of Lagos State.

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