An investigation into the activities of the military has revealed over 300 cases of atrocities perpetrated by the naval officials deployed to various locations in Majidun community in Lagos State. to protect either goods or citizens of the community. Almost half of those results in either personal gains or ethical lapses, SaharaReporters Investigation has found.
Many cases involve breaking into shops and people’s homes with guns and other ammunition for robbery. They displace people from their homes and prevent shop owners and businesses like ferry operators, farmers, fishers and sand diggers from carrying out their operations in Majidun community, Ikorodu, Lagos State.
Some cases involve sex scandals. Take for instance five randy Naval officers gang-raped a 24-year-old lady in this community. Most of these Naval officers are even living in rent-free apartments owned by some helpless widows. These officers were sent to the community to secure the lives and property of the residents of the community and arrest those involved in oil bunkering. The officers, however, have constituted themselves into a menace that needs urgent solution.
Yet, despite these abuses in the community, there have not been efforts on the part of the relevant authorities to punish erring officers for the myriads of atrocities they often perpetrate in the community. Most of the residents now live in fear.
Some of these officers found to have been involved in adulterous relationships with the married women of the community members, a violation of the military’s code of conduct, have been secretly transferred from this community with public knowledge and allowed to go quietly. According to some of the residents of Majidun who spoke with SaharaReporters, In some cases, the naval officers carry out the dastardly acts with the support of the Generals who ought to have brought them to their senses.
Residents said the officers had turned their community to a hotbed of violent sex because their women are now sex toys with whom the officers have sex without compunction even in broad daylight. Take for instance the case of a 24-year old lady who was raped by five naval officers and even beaten after the evil act.
The Military has kept mum, influential Nigerians and politicians to whom these series of atrocities have been reported have made no efforts to see that justice is done. Even the request of the residents that the menacing and life-threatening Naval officers packing from the community have not been met.
Nobody knows what often prompts these Navy Officers to go on raiding, beating and stealing foods from the shops of the residents living in the community. Are they underpaid? Is it just a deliberate show of power? The residents keep wondering what often informs the naval officers' act of wickedness.
Whatever the reason for the misbehavior, three things are clear; The military hasn’t corrected it, no panel has been set up to look into the victimization of the residents of Majidun community.No disciplinary committee has able set up to ensure that the abused find emotional closure by punishing their abusers. This reality makes the residents of Majidun keep living in perpetual fear.
WHERE IS MAJIDUN?
Majidun is a small, sleepy community is located in the west of the region of Ikorodu. The major occupation of the residents is fishing for the reason that they live in a riverine. By cause of the deepness of the river, canoes, boats, and ferries have access to pave their way on the river either for fishing or to transport goods that link other neighboring community to places like Mawere, Oke-Tapa, Isawo, and Arepo.
Baale of Majidun land, Chief Olusegun Omoyele said: “Their forefathers and ancestors established the community several years back which indeed the descendants continue to live in with pride. This place was filled with trees and bush before.”
It was a bright sunny day in the community, the atmosphere was free from rain. The cloud looks like mash potatoes. Some market women were seen selling their goods on a roughly tattered wooden ‘counter’ while a few were hawking cold sachet water popularly known as ‘pure water’ and soft drink.
Catching a glimpse of children in twos’, slightly covered with sands on their body as a result of rolling a spoilt motorbike tyre on the street with amusement written all over their faces as they chased each other up the street.
Getting to the Baale’s house, a middle-aged man which is in his early 50’s with a fringe of grey-white hair around his balding approached me with a grin, indeed, Chief Olusegun Omoyele.
Discussing how the whole incident of the Majidun boys who are believed to be involved in oil bunkering.
He said “When people started bursting pipes of petroleum in Arepo, which is about 40 km from Majidun, particularly a substance that can be sold to get money. Though, Majidun boys never vandalize pipes because there are none of the petroleum pipes that pass through the community. Why they are actually involved in that incidence years back is because of the river that passes through the community.”
Whenever they are transporting the vandalized petroleum over the river, he continued further, “The boys sometimes approach those people transporting the petroleum over our ‘own’ river that passes through our land and eventually tax the ferry drivers for their own share. This actually developed because there is no Job and they have nothing to feed on. These ferries pass this river to Ebute Meta and other places even to Lagos Island and as far as Epe.”
“At a time, some other boys at the other part of the communities started selling fuel in our area because this is a point where you can get a vehicle and it’s actually like a centre where it can be transported to various parts of the state. The boys partner with those guys that are transporting the fuel just to earn a living but they have never involved in bunkering.
“Actually, one of the things that counted against them is that they have ferry here that do transport and they can be seen.
“It got to a time that we stopped them not to join the guys to transport again because of fire incidents that always occur at the site of extraction or collating the kegs of petroleum. As at that moment, they stopped but to be sincere, the boys don’t have something that they will feed on."
HOW THE NAVY OFFICER ARRIVED IN MAJIDUN
According to the letter that the Baale and community members wrote to the former Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola dated 29th November 2014, it read that: “On the 5th October 2014, Over 200 Naval officers invaded the entire community of Majidun with the impression and believe that they are on special surveillance to effect the arrest of some petroleum bunkers within and around the community.
“On the arrival of these naval officers into the community, we thought their operation will only cover and limited to the dwelling area of the suspects since there is no pipeline within or around Majidun community but to our greatest surprise, the whole community was encompassed to the extent that movement for the people in the community was unlawfully restrained and restricted, churches and mosques were taken over, people were sent packing from their houses, market and schools were closed down”
They send our people parking, the Baale of Majidun start his own story as I dragged my chair closer to him for the ease of conversation. “They live in our houses and make some of our people not to have a place to live. They came here on October 5, 2014, they live in our residence, use our Television, power without paying any amount.”
Discussing how the Naval officers have been deliberately creating problems and not willing to be helpful in any area to the community at large. He explained how the community is under the yoke of oppression from those sent to ensure peace and tranquillity.
“Naval officers have been terrorizing the community a lot. There have been several cases in past months, one of those cases was the case of a naval officer who got drunk and started shooting sporadically in the air and on sight. Some of the bullets shot hit three people and they were admitted at Lagos University Teaching Hospital LUTH, neither the naval officers nor the military as a whole did take care of them during all this time they are on the sick bed rather, it was the community members that rallied round in support of them. One of the boys who was shot is even in the community right now, he is currently handicap and he can’t do anything.
“Several months ago, they raided the community and also vandalized so many properties because one of the officers was in a shop playing the locally named ‘baba Ijebu’ lotto and his phone got missing, whether he misplaced his phone or the phone got stolen we don’t know. Of that reason, his naval officers’ friend and he started chasing all the boys. We wrote to some senators and those who are representing us at the House of Assembly as at that time that they should come to our aid but none of them show up. We even told them that these people are selling fuels here, what will you do? How can you help us?
Lagos State House Of Assembly Not Responding To the Community Agitation
After all these incidents, the community at large were invited and we all went to the House of Assembly through our representatives. When we got there, the lady who was raped by this debaucher was present too but they didn’t allow us in because they were in their chamber and it was the chairman of the committee that interviewed us. Actually, they didn’t allow us to take in our recording gadgets. After all the talk, we were told that they can’t do anything.
“There was another incidence that happened in the community. Some of the naval officers got drunk and they started shooting everywhere in the environment.
“What really happened was that some of the naval officers went to smoke with few of these boys and they try to exploit them but they resisted and these naval officers went to reinforce themselves and started shooting in the air. They maimed and demolish part of some houses of people. We called on the police but they could not come. They started chasing those boys all over the place, when they cannot identify the boys that beat up the navy office, The officers started vandalizing the place again. They broke some windscreens of some vehicles and destroyed houses.
“They are the alpha and the Omega of the community because whenever there is a fight in the community, they are the ones the wife will report to and in turn come back to discipline the husband. The community members are really in bondage. Do you know that their staying in the community does not allow the policemen in? They have sealed everywhere. Naval officers do what they like and if they need money, they will start exploiting people in the community unnecessarily.
“When the house they are living is leaking, they move to another house and remove the iron sheet to replace the one that is leaking. The funny part is that they have started selling our containers, the one they seized and meant for the women who struggled to raise the money to build this container. There is no way these ladies can feed right now as their source of income has been put in shortage.
“One of the things that baffled me is that the people who killed the soldiers, fought the police at the other community was given amnesty after a year or thereabout and my people who do not have hands in killing any soldiers and do not participate, only involve in selling’s’ are the one who does not have amnesty. Some of our boys were killed because they are part of the police officers who confronted the bunkers just because they know the terrain before deploying the naval officers."
“So, it gets to a point when the naval officers came because they have to go and stop the boys from vandalizing the pipes. After the cubing, they decided to come to our community and stay or make the place like a harbor to them. They are afraid to stay at the war front in the area and they resolve to stay in the community because they found comfort here.
"During election when I was on air, they came to the community to raid and vandalize everywhere. That was the governorship election in 2015.
“Up till now they blocked our roads and people could not work and they do not have jobs they do not allow our people to move freely and even to go to river and this stops all the domestic jobs and trade that our people really ventured into in back then are not been allowed to do it.
“When you talk, the naval officers will start attacking us even with the young guys that they do not have ammunition but, they have to succumb because they don’t have anything to fight back.
“There is one of their commanders that came to fight me in my office when I told him that how can the dredgers be allowed into the community without notifying the community members this or tell us what they are going to do to the community as a kind of social services to the community.
“He said we cannot stop them. So, when our boys mobilize themselves to stop them coming to our river, they started arresting our boys and of course, they don’t carry guns they have to succumb to them.
“If they want our market to be closed for a whole day, it will be closed because of the fear they have put into people in the community. We live on their mercy, even if you are coming with your vehicle and your light is on, you must off it and failure to do so, they will beat you. You see them going with the boys, putting their clothes and cap somewhere and started smoking with the boys. If not for now that we have stopped them, if a husband and a wife have a misunderstanding, they will come all over from their base to beat the husband up.”
“We are just pleading for them to leave the community because we are part of the country. They assault and do lots of immoral things. When one of the radio stations picked it up that they saw some navy officers smoking with the boys, they picked it up and started beating and causing unrest in the community thinking we are the one that reported them. We told them that they might be a reporter or probably someone called them that day to inform them.”
STRAIGHT FROM THE HORSE'S MOUTH
One of the residents of the community who spoke under the condition of anonymity said, "They collected my house and the shop I used to sell goods before. Right now, I’m using a room for a shop and this is so disheartening. My own house is being used where the officers sleep. I can’t enjoy my sleep because they bring in different kind of ladies and during the night I suffer for their sake.
“I was told by the officers to be sleeping in one of the rooms in the house which is the down part because it has a storey building. How can I build a house and I will get punished in the same house? These naval officers are really frustrating my life and the lives of people in this community."
Speaking further she said, “When they first came into the community, everyone run for their lives. My male child was hospitalized for several months just because of the way he was beaten up. When the naval officers came, they begin to intimidate people with guns and some kind of ammunition.
"As I was about running away from my house I got captured but, the officers that caught me saw the way I was shaking and one of them said I should be freed to go. Not so long, another person came to pick me up but when the commander saw me again, he ordered him to return me back to where I was seated. In fact, by now I would have been dead.
“After they had packed all the boys, they accompanied me to my house to ransack, they look nooks and crannies of the room, with a fine tooth comb and saw that no man was there. I have been in a state of inflicting trauma because I told them that my husband has been dead for years. Shortly, they allowed me to move out from the house not knowing that there is one of my sons upstairs that have hidden himself, when he heard a low, heavy continuous sound outside the house and listening to how I have been shouting at, he decided to jump through the window but as he was about doing that, they caught him.
“They beat the hell out of him, he was given an axe and the same officers instructed him to break all the shops that were closed to check if there might be the availability of fuel. Eventually, he landed on the hospital bed treating the wounded region on his body for six weeks.
“After that day, I moved to one of my children's apartment who lives in Ebute-Metta I concluded in my mind that when the maters die down, then I will come back to the community. Just before the naval officers came to our community, I had lost two sons which make me be in grievance and in deep thought. The shock is really in me and that’s why my daughter said I should be coming so that it won’t really affect me emotionally. During my stay in my daughter place, I was told that the military men have collected my house. All the goods of my children have been carted away. They stole so many clothes of my sons, this is the period of Ileya in 2015.
“After some months that the beaten and harassment of people have been reduced, I returned to the community. The shop you’re in right now is a room before, I use to rent it out for people as a result of that, it serves as a source of income for me.
“The most painful thing is that they do not take care of my house, not only mine but the rest of the houses they have seized. When there is rainfall, we won’t be able to sleep again. We must pack our mattress to one side because of the water that will be coming from the top of the house down to our bed.
“As you are looking at me, I’m a widow. Right now the naval officers are the one selling the petroleum that they deployed them to come and protect the community from and send away the bunkers. As we are using the power together in the house, we are the one footing the bills.
“As I’m talking to you, apart from selling the petroleum which they have a place where they stored it, they are also selling containers of people who they chased forcefully from the area they used to sell things to feed themselves. If you tell them you want a container right now and you have 50k, you will definitely get one.
“My container was among the tens of containers seized by the military men. On that fateful day, I can still remember that it was about Ileya festival and due to that, I borrowed money from my friends and some relatives just to stock goods into the shop to sell the following day as you all know that there will be swift in the market sale.
“I woke to the news that the naval officers have put a barricade along the roads where it leads to my shop and the other, I couldn’t even believe my eyes. I was so sad not because of anything but because the money I used in stocking the shop wasn’t really my own.
“They break the shop, pack lots of items as they feed themselves with it. Well, there’s nothing I can do because they are military men and it’s not only my container alone that were seized but so many other people too who are using that as a source of income to feed themselves, send their children to school and to sustain their lives.
“I was passing along that area one day and I noticed that my container wasn’t seen at the place it was before. Before this time, I do hope that one day I will be able to get my container from these officers.
“So, I rushed to meet the Baale of the community to inform him that I can’t see my container again, he said we should go to the place together and on getting there, we met some of the naval officers and we asked them how my container got missing. They said, “they are the one that removed the container because is no more good.
“Baale now asked them that the container is in what exactly location? One of the officers answered and said: “anything that they do here, nobody can dare ask them”. I later found out that the container was sold.”
Speaking further she said my container was sold to a welder and I can never see it again. Whenever the naval officers want to sell any container, people will be invited from outside the community, most especially the welders that can piece and dismantle the containers. While coming, all their equipment to disassemble the containers will be with them. They do this so that the owner of the container will not be able to have any traces of it ever again.
This is what they have been doing and we are sick and tired of them.