Patrick Oke, a veteran journalist and broadcaster is the tenant occupying the Daily Times Property on 13, Cooper Road Ikoyi which was recently invaded and demolished by a team led by Sen. Ikechukwu Obiorah and chairman of DSTV, Mr. Adewunmi Ogunsanya. Oke explains his ordeal to a set of journalists who were there to see things for themselves. PATRICK OKOHUE report
Can you tell us what really happened here?
I have been resident here in the last 14 years, then a certain Obiorah came here once and said that he co-owned Daily Times with Folio Communications’ Anosike and that he was the landlord of this place and I said no I have been dealing with the Anosikes for the past 14 years, we have a long lease on the property and he is the person I know, he said well they have been to court and this and that happened, I said well I don’t understand, if you are really serious with what you are saying could you bring some evidence.
He said I am here to relocate you right now and I said to him in a place I have been for 14 years with all the structures I have in place so that I can enjoy my tenantship, I paid millions here, so how can you say I should move just like that.
So, he said well he is going to Abuja, when he returns he will see me, that was the last conversation we had, then I travelled to Abuja, I was there working and on the evening of the 21st of November, 2017, I got a message that they have completed plans to come and raid my house the next day and that they were coming as early as 6 am.
So I called my lawyer to say look I don’t know what is going on, this is the message I was getting and my lawyer was here in the morning, apparently my lawyer had foreseen what was going to happen and had actually filed a stay of execution on whatever they were doing, the matter was in the file of the Magistrate, she ignored it, even my lawyer had been given a date for the hearing, for the 19th of December, they ignored it and still came ahead and executed whatever it was they wanted and at the time they came my lawyer was actually at the gate.
He said to them you are executing a sentence on a wrong person, the occupant of this place is not the Daily Times as Mr Obiorah is saying, this place is occupied legally by this other person, so what you are doing is illegal, the Sheriff bruised him aside and brought some scary looking people with harmers and all sorts, broke the gate and started throwing out all my things, it was terrible. It took them a whole day to throw out things, they were bringing in truck to pack my properties.
Do you have idea where those things are?
I don’t have the slightest idea, my wife was outside asking them, can we at least go in and take some sensitive things, they said no, the bailiff actually told my wife that if she will give him a million naira he will let her take out some stuff.
I had about 50,000 books in my library here, here was the main studio, an ultra modern well equipped studio, with audience facilities and anybody who has been here will tell you.
After the first day of packing things he brought about 30 to 40 people just to throw things away. He brought his personal policemen who were armed to the teeth, armored and all, overseeing things.
After throwing out things, they must have brought about 20 trucks loaded with my things, because this is my life, everything I have ever worked for was here and I have been here for 14 years.
We were in court trying to stop it, but the court was delaying and I will tell you that I have lost confidence in the Nigerian system.
I kept going, I even went to Alagbon, and nobody answered me. By the next day they had actually started destroying, you could see people looking like mad people throwing out things and breaking down walls. Five buildings were in this facility, they brought all to the ground, not only bring them to the ground, they took away the debris.
There was a garden here and another place for like Christmas gathering, because we really spent time to make it liveable. It is amazing, I do not know what kind of thinking that someone will have to make him come and do this.
Right now we are in court, we are suing for damages, I hope he can cope, he has to, because we are ready to go to the end of the earth to make sure we get payment for the damage done.
For how much are you suing?
I can’t tell you that, what will I tell you is that what we are demanding his generation cannot pay
When he came did he show you any court judgement?
He brandished what he said is a court judgement, but that will not be the first time we will be seeing something like that, occasionally somebody will come to say they have judgement of this and after that status quo remain and another will come, so, when he brought that, to me it was just like the previous ones, because if really the ownership has changed there is proper format to go about it.
Has he been here since after destroying the place?
No, but after destroying the place he left some guards and a set of policemen under him were coming here regularly to guard the place for him as it were, until the IGP ordered his arrest and a new set of policemen came we were given back access into the place.
At least the IGP has proven that the country is not so helpless, that somewhere there is still a snae voice, because the danger when anybody thinks that they can just get anyone however and influence to get them to do anything, but the IGP has proven that it is not that easy, yes you can get some, but you can’t get all and I am really grateful to the IGP for his action, infact this is restoring my confidence that Nigeria is not a hopeless, first buyer comes kind of country.