The management of Lakers County, a popular night club in the Ikorodu area of Lagos State, is seeking redress over an attack by men of the Anti-Cultism Unit of the Lagos State Police Command, who allegedly invaded its premises on Sunday and seized from its customers and workers valuables worth several millions of naira.
Closed-circuit television footage provided to PUNCH Metro by the club’s management revealed how the officers perpetuated the act that sent shivers down the spines of the customers and workers on duty at the club at that time.
Some of the customers and workers have yet to recover their belongings, which were seized by the officers during the raid.
A customer of the club, Hassan Adebowale, said he had gone to Lakers County to buy shawarma, when the policemen, who shot into the air, invaded the premises.
The University of Lagos undergraduate said, “My friend and I came to the club to buy shawarma; we were at the bar waiting for it to be ready when we suddenly heard gunshots. The policemen rushed upstairs, ordered everyone to lie down. We initially thought they were robbers, because not all of them were in police uniform; it was when we saw some of them in uniform that we realised that they were policemen.
“While we were on the floor, we were told to submit our phones; as we did that, they also collected chains, car keys, and went to the bar to pack drinks and money. Thereafter, they told us to stand up and tied our clothes together and marched us into the bus they brought for the operation. The police officers in uniform were about 20, while the ones without uniform were about 10, with three female officers leading the squad.”
Another customer, Nifemi Solipo, said one of the officers, who allegedly collected her phone during the assault had refused to release it when she visited the Anti-Cultism Unit in the Gbagada area of Lagos despite acknowledging that he collected it.
The make-up artist said, “The officer searched my purse and brought out my phone and kept it in his pocket. I bought that phone for around N350,000. I have been sleeping at the club for two days now because the phone means everything to me. I use the phone to work and to advertise my business, and I will not let go of it.
“I saw the officer at their station in Gbagada and he confirmed that he collected my phone, but could not provide it when they were told to release what they collected from customers. I know that phone is there but they don’t want to release it, and I won’t give up on it.”
The Lakers County’s barman, Samuel Edeh, who was on duty during the police invasion, said the sales proceeds were taken by one of the police officers who was in mufti.
The 22-year-old stated, “We had a lot of customers that day. But when the officers entered the premises and started shooting, I hid under the counter of the bar and hoped that none of the officers would find me, but when one of the officers came into the bar, I was very scared.
“I saw him packing drinks, phones and other valuables; he also collected the sales proceeds for the day. The CCTV captured everything.”
The Chief Executive Officer, Lakers County, Oladimeji Ogunfolaju, who said the raid had cast a dent on the image of the club, stated that he initially thought that the attack was carried out by armed robbers and he informed the officer in charge of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad in Ikorodu and the Divisional Police Officer, Ipakodo Police Station, who mobilised to engage the invaders before their identities were revealed.
He added that the inspector in charge of the case at the Anti-Cultism Unit in Gbagada was dumfounded when he presented footage of the assault that disrupted the activities of the club for the day and has also drastically affected activities there ever since.
Ogunfolaju said, “I was on the Island when I received a call that my club was being robbed and what I did immediately was to put a call through to the OC SARS, Mr Geoffrey, and the DPO, Ipakodo Police Station, Mr Salami, who both swung into action. They were prepared to have a gun battle with the invaders before signals were sent to them that they were men of the Anti-Cultism Unit of the Lagos State Police Command.
“But before the police officers from the Ipakodo Police Station got there, the supposed men from the Anti-Cultism Unit had assaulted and arrested my workers and customers, and marched them into four commercial buses that they brought for the operation. I have 40 CCTV cameras that record everything happening here, and it was through the recorded footage that I saw the whole drama that the officers acted out.
“It showed the way they assaulted my workers and customers; how one of them broke into my bar to steal almost N1m in sales proceeds; how they took my drinks and drank them while they were operating; how they broke my tables and collected customers’ valuables like chains and mobile phones; everything was recorded.
“I can’t imagine police officers using axes to beat customers, including pregnant women; I learnt that one of the pregnant women, who was there during the operation, lost her pregnancy.”
Ogunfolaju, who said a press briefing on Monday had prevented him for presenting the CCTV footage to the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Edgal Imohimi, urged the police to apologise to him and the people assaulted during the invasion.
The state Police Public Relations Officer, CSP Chike Oti, who confirmed the incident to our correspondent, said operatives of the Anti-Cultism Unit of the command were at the club to arrest a cultist.
Oti said, “There was information that a male cultist and his group were at the club at that particular time. The cultist was known for his violent activities in Ikorodu and its environs, and this prompted operatives of the Anti-Cultism Unit to go there for his arrest.
“However, while making attempts to arrest the cultist, the operatives were violently resisted by his gang members, and to avoid casualties, the policemen retreated.”