There was a mild drama on the Banana Island Estate, Ikoyi, Lagos State, on Saturday after residents waylaid the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, who had allegedly visited the estate to inaugurate a project.
Buratai, our correspondent learnt, had been invited by the Nigerian Army Properties Limited to commission an estate, Apple Island, inside Banana Island, when the residents mobilised against the inauguration.
The Chief of Army Staff, who was taken aback by the blockage, appealed to the protesters, who alleged militarisation of the estate and destruction of their jetty by soldiers.
“I was actually supposed to come here yesterday (Friday) and I put it off for certain reasons. I decided to come here to see what the position is. I came here to see the general area first of all.
“But now, nothing is going to happen without following the due process to consult you for your view. Rest assured, we are here for your interest and the interest of the country,” Buratai said in a video of the incident.
The Chief of Army Staff was said to have left without cutting the tape, just as he allegedly ordered that the project board earlier put up for the occasion be removed.
A resident, Tokunbo Wahab, told our correspondent that a battalion of soldiers had created panic last Monday when they stormed the estate.
He claimed that the armed men destroyed the estate jetty fence and signboard on the premise that it was part of the Apple Island.
He said, “On Monday, May 28, the eve of Democracy Day, some armed military men came to destroy our jetty and everything we had there. They came in through the estate gate and stationed themselves there till Friday. They claimed to be acting on the orders of the Nigerian Army Property Limited. Despite our protest, they wanted to go ahead with the inauguration.
“On Friday, some of us challenged the illegality of militarising the estate and we asked them to leave. Around 4pm, the soldiers were withdrawn.
“However, on Saturday, we saw armed policemen and we decided to mobilise as residents when we got the information that the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, was on his way to inaugurate the said Apple Island.
“We decided to form a human shield as he was coming down from his car. We expressed our anger at the militarisation of a civilian estate and the destruction of our property. We told him that we had approval to have a jetty on the estate which they claimed was the take-off point of their Apple Island. We also said they could not use an existing estate as an access to another estate.”
Wahab, who showed our correspondent a video clip of the encounter, said the COAS appeased them by saying he had only visited to see the site.
He added that the military boss promised that the damage would be repaired and nothing would be done without the consent of the residents.