Commuters and motorists in the Ikeja area of Lagos were held in traffic on Wednesday for several hours after some physically challenged persons blocked the Oba Akinjobi Way during a protest against the Lagos State High Court.
Efforts by traffic wardens and policemen from the Area ‘F’ Command, Ikeja, to pacify the men and women were abortive, as they insisted on not leaving the road until their demand for the payment of a judgment sum was met.
Our correspondent gathered that a member of the group, Patrick Aroeze, had in 2008 invited the now defunct music group, Psquare (Peter and Paul Okoye), for a show in Benin, Edo State.
Aroeze, who was a show promoter at the time, said the artistes breached the contract by not showing up for the event.
He said he sued for damages and the High Court awarded him the sum of N8.9m.
Aroeze said for about four years, the court had been making excuses on why he could not get the money.
He stated, “The high court is holding my money. The officials showed me a copy of the cheque but they refused to give me the money for four years. I want Nigerians to know that the judiciary is an institution put in place to oppress and defraud the poor.
“On December 24, 2019, we did something similar (to this protest) and they pleaded with us. The Chief Judge said we should give them one week. It’s been one month and five days now and nothing has happened.”
Our correspondent observed that some members of the group held a banner requesting the help of the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, and Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo.
A physically challenged woman, who was with Aroeze, Kehinde Omobolanle, said they would not leave the road until the money was paid.
She stated, “Aroeze was not physically challenged before. He was a show promoter and Psquare paid N8.9m as damages for not attending a show he booked. The court has been giving excuses.
“We followed him here before and the CJ promised that in a week, he would get the money. It has been over one month now; nobody responded to him.
“He was coming alone before, but when we saw that he did not get the money, we decided to follow him today.
“For over two hours, nobody came out to address us. Later, we blocked the gate of the court. The chief registrar then said we should leave the gate that they were still processing the payment. For four years, still processing what?
“Aroeze is dying. He is sick and needs money to take care of himself.”
A police officer with the tag, Sadiq Yusuf, later prevailed on the group, saying the state Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, had agreed to meet with them and listen to their grievances at the command headquarters.
“The CP is in charge of fighting injustice. He will need to hear your version of what is happening. What you are doing will not only affect you, it will affect your colleagues,” he said.
The Chief Registrar of the state High Court, D. T. Oladokun, confirmed that Aroeze got judgment against Psquare in 2016.
She explained that during the execution of the judgment, the court bailiffs were attacked by thugs on the premises of the artistes.
Oladokun noted that the cheque issued was ‘altered,’ adding that for a long time, Aroeze could not be found, because he travelled for medical treatment.
She stated that he was later advised to go for re-execution.
The registrar said, “He had been advised to get a lawyer and file the process of re-execution and apparently, he is not ready to do that.
“He came here a few times. The first time he came with these people, the CJ addressed him and promised to assist him. The CJ asked me to work on it after we spoke.
“I have had a meeting with him and we agreed to resolve it. I am surprised that instead of asking me for updates, he is resorting to this. It is a personal issue between him and Psquare. He is doing this to intimidate and embarrass us and it cannot go on for long.”