Rt. Hon. Jokotola Pelumi , a former Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly is a frontline leader in the Lagos State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and a senior lawyer. He was recently arrested by the Police in the state, who raided his house on allegation of housing some cult members who were allegedly involved in the killing of a senior police officer in the Agbowa Area of Epe Lagos. In a chat with select journalists, Pelumi speaks on the incident insisting that the allegations by the police are complete falsehood assuring that he will get to the root of the matter. PATRICK OKOHUE was there.
You were recently arrested by the police on allegations of having criminal elements in your house, what really happened?
On Saturday, October 27, one of our former councillors and one of our leaders, the mother died and he was to do a party, the venue of the party was close to my house, a trekking distance, four of us were to go to the party,
but when we came out of the house I saw people running all about and that made me uncomfortable and with that I said I wasn’t going to the party again, so we came back and sat in front of the house.
We were just relaxing, some were playing draft, some playing cards, it’s a usually busy place, they call that place Bourdilon, suddenly we started hearing shooting, so because of that people were no longer going through the street were the party was holding, they were now going through the front of my house.
When we saw that we asked some of the people what happened and they said they killed one policeman, we were alarmed, everybody immediately dispersed, that was how I went inside, that was a little after 6pm or thereabout, so I took my shower and was about to go to bed, then I started hearing noise and banging on the gate with people shouting open the gate.
My cousins and their wives were living with me, my cousins were outside, I think when they saw the policemen coming they ran into the compound and locked the gate,
but one of the policemen jumped through the fence into the compound, opened the gate for others and they started smashing all the reflective glasses and windows, they break the security door that leads into my apartment, then I came out from my bedroom and saw about six or seven of them, fully armed, some with cutlasses and cudgels.
You mean they were policemen?
Yes, policemen with cutlasses and cudgels, one grabbed me and I said look I am former Speaker, they wanted to take my cousins away, those are among the ones that were later arraigned and I said what have they done, they said they are the ones that killed the policeman and I said, no not these ones,
when I said I am former Speaker one of them said Speaker my foot and hit my face with the butt of the gun, immediately blood started oozing out of my face and there was blood all over the place, that was how they dragged me in my pants and put us in a bus outside, threw a teargas inside the bus and locked all the windows.
There is this boy that sleeps in my gate house, Alado, he has a machete cut on the head. So they took us to Agbowa Police Station, dropped us there, that vehicle went away, they went and raided other people and brought them in again, all together by their own count about 49 people.
Then they came to me and said you former Speaker, honourable habouring criminals, I said I don’t know what you are talking about, they took us to Panti overnight.
When we inquired from some of the people arrested that were running about earlier, they said one policeman was killed, that same road where the party held is the same road that leads to Ikosi beach, that they went to do operation there, maybe the anti-cultist unit of the police, that they went to do a raid, I really don’t know the details,
I wasn’t there and that by misadventure a policeman died, but the story that we heard was that their own vehicle while attempting to get away from the boys, perhaps they tried to overpower them, that in an attempt to get away the vehicle ran over the man and that was how he died, they said he is a DSP or so.
They said the police now came back and raided the party, if you see some of those boys that were paraded, the ones in T-shirts are said to be servers at the party and lately I heard that one of them is a student of LASU and that he just came to do that day job.
I am not defending them, but my own cousins are among the ones arraigned, these are my cousins, Kazeem and Adekunle.
It was when I came back to the house that I told them not to go to the party again because of what I heard, because I know the police will not take it easy, they were not at the party, I was not at the party.
Later, after they took us to the police station they ransacked my house, vandalised the house, I will show you the pictures, all the plasma TVs there, in the two sitting rooms and my private sitting room, damaged them,
the one in my bedroom, damaged everything, took away my gold, my hand chains, took away my two Rolex gold watches, took away money about N38,000, then $10,000 in a white envelop taken, brake all the glasses, tables, the chandeliers, even entered the kitchen and did so much damage,
the air conditioners, the condensers outside dragged them down and damaged them, you can go there to see for yourself, even men of Panti CID have been there.
The injury you see on my face is a butt of the gun by one of them. Eventually on Sunday morning they took me to the police clinic in Falomo that is where it was stitched on the directive of the DC Panti and then on Monday they put us in a car
and took us to Ikeja as if they were going to arraign us in court, I later learnt they paraded my cousins among the people, two of the boys paraded are my cousins.
Are they living with you?
Yes, I come home every Friday and once I come they all move to stay with me, with their wives and children and are with me until I leave on Sunday, so every Friday they are with me.
So, what is your next step of action now?
Not to be preemptive of the system, I believe the system will take care of issues, as a senior member of the bar and as a senior stakeholder in the state I have implicit confidence in the capacity of the system to get to the bottom of the case
and unravel the whole thing and again the House of Assembly, where I was the Speaker, I am told raised it on the floor of the House and actually sent Principal officers to the court room on Tuesday, when we were arraigned.
So, I expect that the House of Assembly as an institution will also do what it has to do in the circumstance, but for me on a personal note, I don’t want to preempt the system,
I will allow the law to run its course, allow the system to take care of issues and whatever transpires from there will determine what next steps that I take, but you can be sure of one thing, that level of vandalisation and harassment which are all documented we will have to seek redress for that, because it is a gross abuse of state power.
Do you suspect that this may be a targeted attack at your person?
I don’t engage in speculative ventures, I am not a flippant person, I am a lawyer and my job is about details, I don’t make representations about things I do not know, that I am not privy to.
If we have to do anything it will be determined by the course that the law takes, I am not going to preempt the system. I have absolute respect for the Nigerian Police and I am sure they have capacity to unravel the truth of the matter.
If you are to put a price at the cost of vandalisation what will it be?
It will run into millions. My gold alone runs into hundreds of thousands, wristwatches, chandeliers, three large plasma televisions, home theaters, reflective windows round the house,
it will run into millions if we were to undertake a valuation exercise, but I will want the professionals to do it and I also want you to visit the place and do the evaluation by yourself.
In the process of arraignment were you also arraigned?
Yes, I was arraigned for accessory after the fact, something like that and applications were made for them to release us on self recognition and the magistrate attached certain conditions, which were met. I was officially granted bail by the court.
How many days were you in their custody for?
We were taken in on Saturday at about 7 pm, we were in Panti overnight, taken to Ikeja on Monday and then brought back again and formerly arraigned at the Magistrate Court in Oyingbo on Tuesday.
During the whole episode was there anybody picked from your house either taking refuge or living there that any of the police officers could identify as being directly involved in the fracas that led to the death of the officer?
None whatsoever, nobody was identified, these are my cousins.
I expect that the House of Assembly as an institution will also do what it has to do in the circumstance, but for me on a personal note, I don’t want to preempt the system, I will allow the law to run its course, allow the system to take care of issues and whatever transpires from there will determine what next steps that I take, but you can be sure of one thing, that level of vandalisation and harassment which are all documented we will have to seek redress for that, because it is a gross abuse of state power.