Men of the Nigerian Army from the 323 Artillery Battalion, Owena Barracks, Akure, on Wednesday invaded the premises of a wood factory located in front of the barracks and vandalised property worth N5 million.
The military men, numbering about 30, were said to have invaded the premises of Progress Wood at about 8.00 a.m. in three vehicles, a Toyota Hilux and two jeeps and pulled down the fence of the factory.
They were also alleged to have vandalised the office complex of the organisation and some equipment used after chasing away members of staff of the company that were said to be about 40.
It was learnt that the invasion of the military men was based on the claim by the army that the land on which the factory was located belonged to it.
Speaking with newsmen on the development, the Chief Executive Officer of the company, Akintunde Adebiyi, alleged that the action was taken following his refusal to give the soldiers money.
According to him, soldiers from the barracks had been collecting between N20,000 and N30,000 from him since he started business in the area in 2006 on the pretext that they were providing security and he was always issued with a receipt indicating that he was paying rent.
Adebiyi explained that the soldiers never demanded such money from those who had residential buildings in the area, saying he stopped paying the fee after he was advised by his lawyer.
He said the soldiers who invaded the company carted away his laptop and an unspecified amount of money and destroyed equipment worth N30 million.
The Commanding Officer of the 323 Army Artillery, Colonel S. Nwafor, said it was true that soldiers went to the factory because the land on which it was built belonged to the army.
He said Adebiyi had been paying rent for the land for sometime before he came with a letter from his lawyer, saying he would no longer pay, claiming that the land was not that of the army.
Nwafor added that he spoke with the lawyer and showed him documents to prove that the land belonged to the Nigerian Army.
According to him, instead of going ahead with the initial arrangement, Adebiyi wrote to the Commissioner of Police in the state complaining that the army was trespassing and extorting money from him.