Two fake soldiers have been arrested by the police for impersonating men of the Nigerian Army and allegedly beating up a lawyer, Paul Onyilo, and his client, Solomon Chima.
One Gilbert had reportedly led the suspects Adebayo Olanrewaju, Joseph Daniel and their fleeing accomplice, who was in a Nigerian Navy uniform, to a restaurant at Sharp Corner, Agbado, Ogun State, where the victims were holding a meeting.
Punch Metro learnt that Chima had bought some gallons of paint worth about N60,000 from Gilbert sometime in October 2016, owing the trader N1,000 balance.
Chima, however, declined to pay the balance after the person who painted the apartment, told him that Gilbert did not deliver all the paint. Gilbert was said to have refuted the claim.
It was learnt that the lawyer, Chima and his wife were in the restaurant at about 9pm on Sunday for a meeting on a landed property when Gilbert and the suspects in military camouflage stormed the facility and descended on Chima.
The lawyer said his attempt to pacify the men was met with stiff resistance and aggression as they rained blows on him.
He said, “I was at the restaurant with my client and his wife to discuss a deal. We were waiting for someone when he received a call from a man (Gilbert), asking him where he was.
“A few minutes after, another person called him, threatening that they would catch him wherever he was. He was frightened and I asked him what happened. He explained to me that he was owing Gilbert N1,000. He said Gilbert was also supposed to give him three tins of paint. I decided to alert the Agbado Police Station to the imminent violence.
“The moment I finished sending the distress call, Gilbert and three other men – two in army uniform and one dressed in Nigerian Navy uniform – barged into the restaurant. Gilbert ordered them to beat Solomon (Chima). I tried to calm them. They beat me up, dragged me on the floor, tore my shirt and poured alcohol on my head.”
A Punch correspondent was told that operatives from the station, led by the Divisional Police Officer, CSP Shittu Abioye, raced to the scene and arrested Gilbert and the fake soldiers at a nearby bar, where they had fled to. But, the fourth suspect, identified only as Charles, escaped.
It was gathered that several uniforms and a mask, among others, were recovered from Olanrewaju’s residence by the police.
Thirty-year-old Olanrewaju, an indigene of Abeokuta, Ogun State, who said he was dismissed from the Nigerian Army in 2013, denied partaking in the assault.
He said, “I was at Abule Egba (Lagos State) on Sunday, when Joseph (Daniel) called me on the telephone. He said he wanted to visit his in-law and that I should follow him. As we got there, the in-law (Gilbert) received a call and he exchanged words with the person. He told us that a man he supplied paint to was owing him N1,000 and insulting him.
“We asked him to let us go and caution the man. On getting to his house, we didn’t meet him. We went to the restaurant. Charles started beating the lawyer and I cautioned him. I took the two parties to another bar to settle the matter. I have never committed any crime with my uniform. I use the mask to prevent cold when I ride a motorcycle.”
Daniel, who hails from Enugu State, stated that he got the uniform from Olanrewaju, adding that Charles was a naval officer.
“I wore the uniform to avoid being harassed by security agents. I regretted my action. It was Charles that beat them,” he said.
The Ogun State Police Public Relations, ASP Abimbola Oyeyemi, who confirmed the arrest, said the case would be transferred to the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department for further investigation and prosecution.