The police in Kaduna State have been accused of beating up and forcefully evicting one Paul Ojo, an 85-year-old retired Staff Sergeant of the Nigerian Army and his family from his house in Kaduna.
The incident happened on Tuesday at L2 Kasupda Quarters, Kabala Costain, Kaduna.
SaharaReporters gathered that the police invaded the house without any prior notice or court order and asked the occupants to vacate the building.
Armed policemen drafted to carry out the operation were said to have descended on Ojo, who insisted that the property was still under litigation and pending before the court.
He also demanded from the gun-wielding officers the court order or warrant that authorised his eviction.
The request did not go down well with the police as they pounced on the old man, dragged him on the floor and threw out his properties.
Also, his 75-year-old wife, Veronica, and children were not spared in the assault as the policemen inflicted injuries on one of the son, Isaac, for challenging them for beating up his father.
Leader of the team, one DSP Ahmed, reportedly fired several gunshots during the operation.
Findings revealed that residents, who initially bidded and bought the houses in the area from government, were predominantly christians and had in 2017 instituted a suit at the state high court challenging the decision of the state government to revoke the properties.
A bank draft sighted by SaharaReporters also showed the payment of the sum of sum N235,000 made by Ojo which represented the 10 per cent of first installment of the total sum.
It was also gathered that buyers of the properties according to the terms and conditions were to pay in three installments of 10, 25 and 65 per cent respectively.
Ojo said he had paid the first installment in line with the agreements and wanted to pay the second installment but was turned down.
He explained that he wrote several letters notifying them of his readiness to pay the second installment but all to no avail.
In a court document obtained by SaharaReporters with suit No. KDH/KAD/904/2017 between Paul Ojo ( plaintiff) and Kaduna State governor, Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice and Committee on the Sale of Residential Houses in Kaduna State, as 1st, 2nd and 3rd defendants respectively.
The plaintiff (Paul Ajayi) had prayed the court that he was the rightful and legal owner of the property and his allotment was based on public auction of the Kaduna State Government residential quarters.
The eviction was allegedly authorised by the state’s Solicitor-General, Chris Umar, who delegated one Samuel Madaki to lead the operation.
In an interview with SaharaReporters, Ojo’s lawyer, Kimi Livingstone Appah, said the matter on the property was pending before the court and that they had close their case but the state government represented by Tahir Ladan from the Ministry of Justice had refused to open defence.
He confirmed that his client was assaulted by the police, who came to carry out the eviction without any court order.
Appah said the house in question was bought by his client but later allocated to one Mr Abbas Mohammed Ango, who filed a suit at the Customary Court of Tribunal with the intention to taking over the house.
He explained further that he had filed a preliminary objection in the suit challenging the jurisdiction of the court in the matter.
He said the police physically assaulted and dragged his client on the floor in his presence when he approached Madaki, who was leader of the team to provide the warrant or court order to carry out the eviction.
He said, “When we met Samuel Madaki who is the leader of the team that you cannot do this and it is wrong, he told us to go to hell that as far as the governor had given order, he was following the directive.
“In my presence, they were beating the old man who just came back from the hospital. He was dragged on the floor like a goat. He is an hypertension patient and has leg problem.
“They also beat up his 75-year-old wife and arrested two of his sons, Isaac and Michael. They were detained in the police station for 10 hours.
“There is a pending matter over the property. There is no judgment yet, the case is in court. The governor sold the houses and most of the people including my client bidded and bought the properties but government later revoked it and gave it to their Muslim brothers.
“We went to court and challenged it that since they had.not returned the money to those who bought the houses, they had no right to allocate it to another buyer or evict them.”
When SaharaReporters reached out to leader of the team, Samuel Madaki, for reaction, he said he was not in best position to speak on the matter.
Police spokesperson in Kaduna could not be reached for comments as of the time of this report.