‘Oil wells’: Lagos takes over residents’ battle

GovFasholaLagosState04 September 2013, Lagos – Lagos State Government has taken over the legal fallout in the arrest of some residents in the Ejigbo area of the state.

They were arrested by the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps and some soldiers last week.

The residents were arrested over the discovery of some wells containing fuel instead of water in their homes.

The state government had, however, faulted the arrest, saying the NSCDC did not conduct a proper investigation to establish whether the people arrested were actually responsible for the action or whether it was a mere incident.

It was learnt on Tuesday that Governor Babatunde Fashola ordered the Office of the Public Defender to “take up the matter” arising from the arrest, which the governor was said to have described as illegal.

A source within the government said, “The NSCDC last week stormed some buildings at numbers 17 and 30 Aminatu Ilo Street and arrested eight persons, including a pregnant woman, accusing them of diverting fuel into their wells.

“But it was not true. So, the governor ordered OPD to take legal action against the NSCDC to defend the affected people. The governor frowned at the indiscriminate arrest.”

When our correspondent contacted the OPD, a statement from the office said a team from the OPD, led by its Director, Mrs. Omotola Rotimi, visited the affected area on Monday.

The statement quoted the director as saying that Fashola directed the OPD to render legal aid to the people as he (governor) was displeased with the action taken by the corps against them.

The statement added that the OPD had secured the release of the arrested persons.

Rotimi said a former governor of the state, Bola Tinubu, and Fashola had written to the Federal Government on the issue of ruptured pipelines and seepage of pipelines without response.

She said, “Despite these letters, nothing was done. It would have been more appropriate for NSCDC to conduct a thorough investigation before arrest.

“This is against jurisprudence and human rights. These people are the victims, whose homes, livestock and crops have been destroyed due to the pollution of their wells and environment.

“They should be the ones heading to the courts to enforce their fundamental rights rather than law enforcement agencies harassing them.”

– Sesan Olufowobi, The Punch

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