Residents of Arifanla village in Akute-Odo, Ifo local government area of Ogun state have fled the community as a result armed soldiers invasion.
The armed military men who have been in the community since Thursday, August 18, according to the head of Arifanla community, High Chief Adeboye Adekunle.
High Chief Adeboye said the soldiers were seven in number. He said they came in military truck from the Nigerian Army Ordinance Corps, Albalti barrack in Lagos.
The community head said the military men forced their way into a duplex situated at 7, Oderinde close which belongs to the Baale of the community. He said the armed men threw out the properties of the occupant and took over the building thereby violating earlier court ruling.
In his account of the incident, High Chief Adeboye informed that the said building was a subject of litigation between the Baale and one Abiodun Oderinde, but the case was decided in 2014 in favour of the Baale by Justice Catherine Ogunsanya of the Ogun State High Court holden at Ota judicial division.
However, he stated further: “Following the court judgment and its eventual execution on August 16, 2016, there came the invasion of the community two days after by armed soldiers from Albalti barrack, harassing and molesting innocent passers-by and residents. They chased out the occupants, threw out their properties and installed another occupant.
“Subsequently, the soldiers have been stationed at the community chanting war songs every night and harassing innocent people. They have turned Arifanla community into a shadow of itself as many residents have deserted the community, filled with the fear of being attacked. For instance, I have vacated my home since their assault because the information I got revealed that I would be dealt with if I should step my feet in the community. I am appealing to all Nigerians, to stand up to our cause because the soldiers have rendered me homeless.”
Predominantly, Arifanla is a community of farmers and hunters who migrated from Ijaiye Abeokuta in 1800 to settle in Akute-Odo, Ifo local government.
The economic status and the number of inhabitants in the community cannot be estimated.
However, according to Chief Olalekan Ogundele, following the recent invasion, human presence and economic activities in the community have been paralysed as many residents have fled.
Chief Olalekan expressed his grievances as he said: “It is an act of lawlessness and gross misconduct for soldiers to invade people’s homes without any respect for the rule of law. I don’t see any reason for presence of soldiers in the community not to talk of extending terror on innocent citizens because it has been two years since we got judgment. The soldiers are not above the law and as such I am appealing to the Federal Government to rescue us from this bondage and call them to order.”
Another resident who pleaded anonymity described the incidence as a confirmation of the extent of lawlessness in the country.
He said: “The sight of armed soldiers reminds me of how insecure our community is; they came in droves took over a building which we learnt belonged to the Baale against court ruling and stationed themselves at the gate of the building molesting female residents and other passers-by to the point that many of us have fled the community. I am calling on the government to save our souls and restore peace in our community.”
Meanwhile, an attorney to the Baale of Arifanla village, Barrister Kilanko Olalekan, has described the activities of the soldiers as an affront to the rule of law.
He said: “Indeed, when judgment was obtained, the claimants, Chief Adeboye Adekunle ensured that it was duly executed on August 16, 2016 through the Nigerian police, in Elewe-eran, Ogun state. But in defiance to the court judgment, solders invaded No 7, Oderinde close and broke into the building and re-admitted the occupants that were initially sacked by the court. As we speak, the solders are stationed there making sure that the entire residents particularly the Baale and his family do not step into the community. This is an affront to the rule of law.
“Our position is this, judgment has been given and executed therefore the intervention of the army is a constitutional rape and a violation of the human right of the people in question. Already we have petitioned Zone 2 of the Nigeria police. These soldiers should not go unpunished and that is why we are calling on the presidency, the Nigerian army to wade into the matter to prove to all Nigerians that the country is truly democratic and that no individual can take laws into his hands which is exactly what these solders are doing now.”
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