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Inside story of how a criminal gang is terrorising a community in Ado Ekiti

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ON Monday, May 2, 2022, residents of the Ajebamidele area of Ado Ekiti, the capital of Ekiti, blocked the ever-busy Ado-Ikere road to protest the incessant kidnappings and armed robbery by hoodlums in their community.

The protest, which started around 8 am, left many commuters and road users stranded for several hours.

Armed with placards with various inscriptions, the residents lamented the state of insecurity in the area was becoming too alarming as they could no longer sleep with their two eyes closed.

According to them, the protest was to call the attention of appropriate authorities to find a solution to the problem.

The ICIR would later understand that Monday’s protest followed an incident of abduction of Julius Tolani, one of the indigenous landowners in the area who also doubles as a prominent chief in Ado Ekiti.

Alabi Okoro, a resident who spoke to The ICIR during a visit to the area, said Tolani, who is also a pastor, was kidnapped during church service.

Although Okoro could not confirm the identities of Tolani’s abductors, he linked the incident to a protracted land tussle in the area.

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When the State Police spokesperson Sunday Abutu eventually spoke with this reporter after several unsuccessful attempts to get reactions from the police, he said the kidnap was staged.

He authoritatively said that the pastor was the one that arranged for his own kidnapping so that he could implicate the other party in the land tussle.

When this reporter expressed doubts about the veracity of his claims, he said that Tolani had already been arrested by police officers and was in custody.

He promised to send a full statement the following day, which happened to be Tuesday, but didn’t. When he was reminded on Tuesday evening for the statement, he said that the police had deferred further statement on the incident to Wednesday.

However, The ICIR would later learn that Tolani was released by his abductors in a different area of the state in the late hours of Monday.

This reporter traced Tolani to his family house in the Ekute area of the state capital, where he narrated how he was abducted and his subsequent ordeal in the hands of his abductors.

According to Tolani, the incident happened some minutes after 9 am, just moments into Bible study in the church.

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The 70 years old said that his abductors of about six men stormed the church premises with all manners of weapons ranging from guns, and cutlasses to bottles and came straight to where he was seated to drag him.

He noted that some members of his church who tried to put up resistance were overpowered, beaten and injured before he was taken away on a motorcycle to a waiting minibus and got driven away with blindfolded eyes to an unknown destination.

“The incident happened just some minutes after 8 am. We had just finished our Sunday school when they came into the church and asked me to follow them,” he said.

“Some of my church members who tried to put up a resistance were beaten and injured before I was taken away on a motorcycle and joined a waiting van at the main express road.”

Tolani said that although he did not check his time to ascertain for how long they travelled specifically, he said by his instincts, they journeyed more than an hour into a thick bush where he was told to lay on a bare floor with his eyes still blindfolded.

He said that his abductors did not give him anything to eat or water to drink through out his stay with them which was more than 24 hours.

At a point, he said one of them said they should kill him, but the other reasoned that there might be heavier consequences if they should kill him.

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Before he was dropped off and left in Koferere in parts of the state capital, he said they disposed of his mobile phone and N20,000 that was with him.

He explained his plight to some of the people he saw at Koferere and pleaded with them to  give him N200 motorcycle fare back to his house, but no one headed to his plea.

He would later plead with a motorcycle rider to take him to the nearest police station in the Odo Ado area of the state, but on getting there, some officers on duty told him the case was beyond their jurisdiction and that he should go to the police station in Ologede.

He said that the deputy police officer-in-charge of Ologede police station called a team of the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Response Squad (IGP) officials in the state, who later came and took him to their station that night and was asked to give another statement before he was released and allowed to go home to his family around 2 am on Tuesday.

The kidnappers, according to Tolani, were led by one Musa Lasisi.

Julius Tolani/file: Vincent Ufuoma

Adeyanju Ayodeji, a younger brother of Tolani, who has also been a victim of Lasisi criminality, confirmed the incident to The ICIR.

Lasisi is not new to anyone in the community because of the way he terrorises the community with his gang, which includes Peter Adewumi, Olalekan Rominiyi, Ojo Opoetu, and Taju Bello and one Bunmi.

Lasisi, is from the family of the Akogun of Ado-Ekiti. Akogun is a chieftaincy title in Yoruba that means the “brave one”. The title is held in trust by Akin Ojo, a lawyer, for the Akogun family.

The land in Channel 8 has been in dispute between the Adeyanju Ogidigbo, that is represented by Tolani, who is also a prominent chief in Ado and the Akogun of Ado Ekiti. The two families have both claimed ownership of the land.

The said land has been a subject of court litigation for more than three years.

The ICIR understands that Lasisi alongside his cohorts makes life unbearable for residents who have become landowners by their virtues of buying from the said land. Some of the residents that spoke with this reporter recalled how Lasisi would lead hoodlums to disrupt those trying to develop their acquired lands by claiming that he is “Omo Onile,” which means landowners in English.

The community had, in a petition asked the state commandant of Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) in March 2022 to come to their aide.

Copies of the letters written by the community to NSCDC

In the memo written by a law firm, Taiwo Ogunmiroti and Co, alleged that Lasisi led a gang to rob and break into one Akinyemi Moses’ house.

The ICIR was informed that Lasisi and his cohorts had been arrested on several occasions only to find their way back into the community and continue unleashing mayhem on residents.

Due to how he terrorises the community, the Akogun family had, in a letter to the Ewi of Ado Ekiti Rufus Adeyemo Adejugbe, denounced and distanced the family from Lasisi’s terrorism.

In one of the letters sighted by The ICIR, the Akogun kicked against plans by the Ewi to install Lasisi as the Imi of Ado Ekiti. The family worried that conferring him with such a title would enable him to unleash more violence and mayhem on residents of the community.

In the letter which Ojo wrote, the family warned the king that Lasisi’s installation as a chief would not only spell doom for the king but the whole of Ado Ekiti. He advised the king to shield the plan.

“I believe it is highly imminent and of utmost urgency to reconvene my opinion and position on and against the installation of one Mr Musa Lasisi, who claims ties as a member of the Akogun chieftaincy family, as the Imi of Ado Ekiti,” part of the Ojo’s letter to the king on March 17, 2022, had read.

“Mr Musa Lasisi has caused so many innocent indigenes and non-indigenes who chose to invest in the real estate sector of Ado Ekiti by owning portions of land to cry, lose their funds to his fraudulent sale, be heartbroken, and therefore left them emotionally and financially shattered. He has no other means of making and earning a legitimate income and has continued to carry out unlawful acts, particularly land grabbing, as his source of income.

“Kabiyesi, I owe you this imminent and extremely important duty as your loyal and humble subject to inform you therefore of the dangers and disadvantages of approving the installation of the said Mr Musa Lasisi as the next Imi of Ado Ekiti.

“I make bold to say that Mr Musa Lasisi is not in any manner whatsoever fit and qualified to stand before your royal majesty or to sit in your court as a chief of your royal majesty. His installation will therefore bring nothing other than a permanent stain and perhaps discredit to the precious, adorable, and and enviable image of your kingship position to the Ewi in Council, and will also result to an injustice to the victims of his heinous crimes of land grabbing.

“Mr Musa Lasisi is not such that would be loyal to your revered position and has been discovered by me over my years of encouraging him to be a betrayal and backstabber.

“Appointing and installing Mr Musa Lasisi as the next Imi of Ado Ekiti will therefore be the perfect avenue for him to now manifestly carry out a more pronounced act of land grabbing under the disguise of a chief and rightful owner of the said portion of land.

“This will only continue to resort in the fraudulent sale of portions of the said land and meting out injustices to inspecting and innocent buyers/victims, one which is absolutely avoidable.”

Copies of a letter written by the Akogun family distancing the family from the criminality of Musa Lasisi

In another letter to the state commissioner of police in March 2020, the Akogun family also distanced themselves from the activities of Lasisi. The family requested the police to carry out an investigation of Lasisi’s activities and to ensure he was made to face the wrath of the law.

The family complained that his appeals and warnings to Lasisi that he should stop harassing residents and also stop encroaching on the land have fallen on deaf ears.

Copies of a letter written by the Akogun family to the state commissioner of police in 2020.

“I, therefore write to bring to the notice of your good self, my position on the above mentioned persons as same is necessary for the maintenance of the peace, safety and orderliness of the lawful occupants our Sije land,” the letter to the commissioner of police which The ICIR sighted had read.

In a follow-up letter by the Ewi of Ado to the State Commissioner of Police on March 16, 2020, the royal king appealed to the police boss to expedite action on the letter earlier written to him by the Akogun’s family.

The king said his letter was regarding “to the incessant acts of criminality perpetrated by one Musa Lasisi and his devilish gang with the axis of Ajebamidele and Odo Esunsun” of Ado Ekiti.

Oba Adejugbe appealed to the commissioner to take immediate action in nibbling the criminality in the bud.

The royal father expressed worries that no meaningful action has been taken against Lasisi despite reported cases of his crime in the community and several cries for help to law enforcement officers by residents.

He noted that although Lasisi’s criminal activities in the community have been denounced and rejected by the Akogun’s family, he still wages war against residents. He asked the commissioner to investigate and unravel anyone sponsoring Lasisi’s criminality in the community.

1. Copies of a letter written by the Ewi of Ado-Ekiti urging the state commissioner of police to act on the letter written by the Akogun family.
2. Copies of a letter written by the Ewi of Ado-Ekiti urging the state commissioner of police to act on the letter written by the Akogun family.

“….the disputed farmland at the above mentioned area in Ado Ekiti is sincerely yearning for your command’s attention and redress.

“I am now calling on your esteemed self to kindly go through the attached various photocopy reports of this questionable character and his group to various quarters without any meaningful action taken against these indecent characters in the community.

“I would be grateful to you if you should use your good offices in curbing the obnoxious recklessness of these people in order to allow peace to reign in the said trouble area of the metropolis; and to let them know that they are not above the law of the land.”

The ICIR asked the police spokesperson to reaffirm his earlier statement that claimed Tolani’s kidnap was staged and explain why the police did not previously arrest Tolani and his gang despite letters to the commissioner of police by the king and chief Akogun.

He has not responded after more than 24 hours; the new findings were shared with him.

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