ANOTHER crisis is brewing in the coastal community of Ayetoro, in the Ilaje Local Government Area of Ondo State, following the release of some 22 suspected hoodlums who allegedly invaded the community and unleashed terror on the community last January by an Akure Magistrate Court.
The people of the community have expressed their displeasure over the unconditional release of the suspected hoodlums by the Magistrate without trial, following a letter from the Office of the Attorney General to set them free.
The Ayetoro community, in a Save Our Soul (SOS) statement issued and made available to journalists in Akure, called on the state governor, Mr Rotimi Akeredolu to wade into the matter before it escalated into anarchy.
The people specifically accused the state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Kola Olawoye of perverting justice, by calling for the unconditional release of the 22 hoodlums arrested in the act of causing mayhem in Ayetoro Community.
Speaking on behalf of the community, the Baba Ijo of Ayetoro Community, Lawrence Lemamu, expressed disappointment over the release of the accused who invaded the community, leaving many residents injured during the attack.
He explained that the 22 accused who were arrested and brought before the court were released unconditionally and said “What signal will this send to the whole sane world about our resolve to protect the people and stamp out criminality? The court of law should have been a place where all the mysteries concerning the attack would have been unravelled.”
Lemamu said that the plaintiffs and defendants had sought redress in the court but “the greatest surprise of our lawyers, police prosecutor and all witnesses, a call and a letter came from the Ministry of Justice to free all the 22 hoodlums.”
He described the release as an attempt to pervert justice by turning the case against the witnesses and leaders of the community who had seen the judiciary as the last hope of the common man.
“This is the greatest absurdity we have ever heard of in our whole existence. We have to cry out against this injustice and impunity,” he said, warning that “this act, if allowed to stay, would have emboldened the 22 criminals and many of the likes to go out there to cause more mayhem.
“Knowing fully well that there is a power backing them up to trample upon the legal structure of Ondo State and declare them not guilty without a trial, they will foment more troubles.
“This has made the prospect for peace very unattainable because the people of Ayetoro who were maimed during the attack were hoping on the judiciary to do justice, that was why they did not resort to self-defence.
“Now all hope of justice, all sense of citizenship, all trust in the judiciary as the last hope of the hopeless is been eroded,” he said.
Counsel to the community, Mr Sola Oke, decried the high-handedness and conspiracy, saying “I am disappointed in the judicial system, not the court because the court has a duty to give recourse to the legal advice that came.
“But the process by which the legal advice came was strange and bizarre. A situation where the office of the Attorney General would be used as a tool either in the hands of political opportunists or people absolutely known as criminals, whose criminal conducts were well captured by video and they were exposed to the social media.
“We find it strange and incredible that any office of government will be involved in such, particularly the office of the Attorney General who is expected to be the Chief Law Officer of the state. It is purely an aberration of the provisions of the constitution and their office of the Attorney General.”
Oke, however, warned that the Ministry of Justice should not be used as a tool to support criminals and people of criminal conducts, saying it amounts to legalizing criminality and giving constitutional backing to crime and criminality.
He vowed that the 22 hoodlums released by the Office of the Attorney General would not be allowed to go scot-free “because otherwise, the conduct of the office of the Attorney General is capable of unleashing anarchy.
His words: “If people brought guns to my house to attack me and I reported to the police and they were arrested in the course of the act, not even after they were overpowered by the joint efforts of the Police and Navy, arrested, taken to the court and the office of the Attorney General was used as a tool to effect their release.
“It means that when next they come to my house, of course, I have to fight back. We will not allow or encourage our clients to engage in that, rather, we will utilize all lawful means to ensure that justice is done,” he said.
It will be recalled that a gang of notorious hoodlums, numbering 22 unleashed terror on the community on January 11, 2018, causing a lot of bodily harms and wanton destruction of properties.
It was gathered then that the leader of the group, one Joseph Oniyesan, reportedly snatched the service rifle of a security agent to terrorize the people but he and his gangs were eventually overpowered and arrested in the house of Ajijo.
There had been a protracted kingship tussle in Ayetoro, Ilaje LGA of the state since 2015 when one Ajijo Micah was said to have forcefully declared himself as the traditional ruler of the community in contradiction to the culture and tradition of the theocratic community.