LAWYERS4CHANGE

Saturday, June 21, 2008

LASTMA STAFF KILLS LAGOS COURT WORKER


SQUIB COVER STORY

Lateef Osho Jogunomi was a well known face in the sheriffs section of the Ikeja High Court. He was an auxiliary staff, one of the many signed on by the Lagos State Judiciary to act as assistants to sheriffs on execution duties.
On Friday the 6th June 2008, Jogunomi, said to be in his late forties and a father of five, left his house very early in the morning to carry out an eviction exercise with some of his colleagues in a suburb of Lagos but he was never to return to his house or the loving company of his family, for whom he was head and the main bread-winner. By 8:30a.m on this fateful Friday morning, the enforcers of court orders had successfully carried out their task and they dispersed to find their way back to their base – the Ikeja High Court. Jogunomi and only of member of his team, Aliyu Ajiwokeu kept company in the bid to get back to Ikeja. But neither of them reached that destination as an unexpected and unwanted tragedy visited them on the way and truncated their journey, ultimately taking Jogunomi on a journey of no return.
According to Aliyu Ajiwokeu, Jogunomi’s companion who witnessed how his colleague suddenly became a patient in a hospital’s emergency ward and later an occupier of a space in the morgue, put the blame for the unfortunate demise of Jogunomi squarely on the door steps of the Lagos State Transport Management Authority (LASTMA).
Said Ajiwokeu “We were coming from where we went for execution. When we got to Ketu we took a bus that would take us to Oshodi. We were approaching Oshodi Oke, when two LASTMA staff stopped our bus. The bus was passing in front of their Oshodi office that very time. When the driver stopped, the two LASTMA staff ordered all passengers to come down.
All of us were shocked, moreso as it was raining that time. We however came down and I was the one who led the other passengers to meet the two LASTMA staff to enquire from them why they had to order us down from the bus.
One of the LASTMA men was almost fully kitted out in his official uniform while the other was in mufti, Ankara dress specifically.
The two men were rude and hostile to us saying that they needed the bus for their operation. When we now said what about the fare we had paid to the driver, they shouted that that’s our problem and hat we should go away.
At that point one of the passengers when I later knew to be Taofeek told the LASTMA men that they were acting unfairly and oppressively and were abusing the privilege that they were uniformed men. For saying that Taofeek’s umbrella was taken from him and broken.
Suddenly the LASTMA man in mufti just pushed those of us standing together and we staggered back. Then he went to Jogunomi who never uttered a word and who was standing by himself and shoved him violently backwards.
Taking by surprise Jogunomi fell backward immediately, hitting his head on the road, right at the entrance of LASTMA office.
As he fell, his phone flew away from his hand and I rushed to pick it up, thinking, he Jogunomi would pick himself up, but he just lay there.
I saw the two LASTMA men ran into their office, after Taofeek unsuccessfully tried holding down the man who pushed Jogunomi to the ground. Taofeek joined me to chase them while the women amongst us started wailing that LASTMA has killed a person.
Once inside their vast compound, the two men disappeared but in the commotion, I heard some other LASTMA staffing referring to the escapes as Yomi and Yusuf. One DSP Sunday, a senior police officer who was there advised that it was better that we should abandon chasing for the two LASTMA men and look after my colleague and we did just that.
We lifted him from the ground and took him to their clinic in the compound and from there we took him to Gbagada General Hospital. He was in very bad shape, he couldn’t talk, blood was coming from his nose, yet he was struggling to stand up from the hospital bed and we had to hold him down. I contacted our office by phone and our superiors, particularly Magistrate Oguntade, the Director of the Department swung into action. That madam really tried. We heard she called the Chief Judge, and also the Governor and she came to join us at the hospital. At about 8:00p.m that evening I had to leave for my house. By the next morning, I heard that Jogunomi gave up about 1:00a.m in the morning.
We have reported the mater to the police at Mosafejo Police Station but I don’t know how far they have gone with their investigation, or whether the LASTMA men have been apprehend”
The Squib gathered it was only on Tuesday the 10th June that the remains of the late Jogunomi was interred, after an autopsy was conducted on his body. We also gathered that a sum of twenty five thousand naira was released by the Lagos State Judiciary authorities to Jogunomi’s family to aid in his burial ceremony.
The Squib’s efforts at meeting Magistrate Oguntade, the Director of the Sheriffs section twice on Jogunomi death in the past week was abortive. Although we met with Mr. Ogundare, the acting Chief Registrar of the Lagos State Judiciary, no enlightenment on the latest developments in the case emerged in that direction as the high level official maintained the age-long policy of wary official interaction and taciturnity with the Squib. According to the acting Chief Registrar, “There is no formal report from the Department concerned on the matter yet and so I would not want to say anything more than acknowledging the fact that someone died. To go beyond that is to be indulging in speculations.”
Observers believe that the death of auxiliary Sheriff Lateef Osho Jogunomi is one death that the Lagos State Judiciary, his employer should not allow to be swept under the carpet, for two important reasons: one to show that the Lagos Judiciary values and cares for all her staff, irrespective of their levels and status and two - to act as deterrence to other members of Lagos State Law enforcement agencies like LASTMA, Kick Against Indiscipline (KAI) corpsmen etc who indulge in brutalising and humiliating members of the public in the name of carrying out their duties.
Meanwhile the Squib advises the family of late Jogunomi to take up civil claims against LASTMA in the court of law for the unlawful, wicked and reckless determination of their bread-winner’s life. The NBA Ikeja branch can be approached in this regard.

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