There was pandemonium in the Amule area of Ayobo, Lagos State, on Saturday, when members of the Nigeria Automobile Technicians Association, Ayobo unit, reportedly engaged in a fight over land.
A former chairman of the unit allegedly assaulted two panel beaters, Matthew Idowu, and Sunday Olowolaiyemo, over the land allocated to another member of the union.
The victims were reported to have become dumb and were rushed to different hospitals for treatment.
A witness, Peter Funsho, explained that the present executive members of the union and their chairman went to inspect the land to officially hand it over to their member.
However, the ex-chairman reportedly led another group to the site, as the two parties engaged in an argument over rights to the land.
Funsho said, “The former chairman said no construction would be done on the land because he still had authority over it.
“A panel beater, Idowu, responded that the land had long been sold and besides, the man was no longer the chairman of the union.
“Their argument resulted in a fight and the ex-chairman threw punches at Idowu, who was supported by another panel beater, Olowolaiyemo.
“The former chairman brought out a ring and hit them; they fell and could not get up. Co-mechanics rushed at the victims and tried to help them, but they looked pale with their eyes wide open. They could not talk or respond to questions.
“Idowu was rushed to a church and a prophet prayed for him. After a while, he was a bit fine, but could still not talk as he was demonstrating with his hands. So, his family was informed about the incident and they requested that he should be brought to their village in the Oja-Odan area of Ogun State.
“The ex-chairman and others were arrested by policemen from the Ayobo Police Station. He was later released and he’s back in the community.”
One of the victims, Idowu, who spoke to PUNCH Metro, said his partner who tried to save him from being beaten up by the ex-chairman, was also assaulted.
He said, “The present chairman asked me to accompany him to the site because he wanted to apportion land to a member of the association. While we were measuring the land with a tape rule (tape measure), the ex-chairman came in to stop us.
“They pounced on me, gave me some punches and when I refused to give them the tape rule, another member of their team tried to break my hands in other to collect the tape by force. One of our members, who tried to rescue me, was beaten with a charm and he fell to the ground and couldn’t get up. Then, the ex-chairman beat me as well with the charm and I didn’t know what happened afterwards.
“I landed in a hospital and was receiving the second drip when I managed to tell them to take me to my village at Oja-Odan, Ogun State, for treatment.
“They thought I was pretending. Eventually, I was transferred to my village, where I was treated. I am better now and I have resumed back to work.”
The second victim, Olowolayemo, also alleged that he was hit with a charm while trying to separate the fight.
He said, “The land dispute has been on for a while and the past excos had been insincere in their dealings on land.
“After the argument which resulted in a fight, we had to stop our chairman from getting involved because of his position as the head of the unit and I stepped in to separate those fighting.
“The former chairman rushed into a nearby shop and brought out a ring which he used to hit Idowu and myself and we both fell to the ground. I was initially rushed to the Ifo area of Ogun State for treatment because I couldn’t eat or sleep. Later, I was transferred to Oja-Odan, where Idowu was being treated and already recuperating.”
A senior official of the union, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the Ayobo unit was fined N180,000 by the state branch for reporting the case to the police.
He lamented that the state branch imposed fines on them without caring about those assaulted.
The former chairman said the matter had been resolved and declined further comment.
“The issue has been resolved by the state (branch) and there is no need for any further comment by me,” he added.
The Lagos State Chairman of the Nigeria Automobile Technicians Association, Egberongbe Morufu, who confirmed the incident, said decisions made were exclusive only to members of the union.
He said, “Yes, the incident is true and the matter has been resolved. Decisions made and actions taken remain and do not concern non-members.”
The state Police Public Relations Officer, Benjamin Hundeyin, said some suspects were arrested for assault and later released on bail.
He said, “The leadership of the association of mechanics and all parties involved in the matter approached the Divisional Police Officer to resolve the dispute under the Alternative Dispute Resolution. The DPO consented to their resolution and granted the suspects bail.
“If either of the parties no longer agrees with the ADR and reports to the police, the suspects granted bail will be summoned back to the station and the legal process will be applied as it should be.”
A professor of African Traditional Religion and Director, School of Part-Time Studies, Lagos State University, Ojo, Danoye Oguntola-Laguda, said such incidents do happen.
He said, “I have witnessed many of such incidents. After being beaten with a charm, the victim will continue to roll on the floor until consciousness is lost, and others will continue to drink water abnormally and so on.
“It is difficult to explain scientifically because science is about evidence and exhibition. You should be able to test and repeat it for it to be scientific. Unfortunately, it is difficult to repeat.
“The important thing is the philosophy of evidence. There are thousands of people who can tell you they witnessed such and how it happened. The issue of whether it is real or not is not what you want to subject to a test. Africans, Nigerians and the Yoruba in particular believe in it and it works for them.”