A business owner, Godshelter Oluwalogbon, has accused the Head of Chancery, Nigerian Consulate, New York, United States, Benjamin Olafaju, of using the police in New York to harass him and his business.
In a video made available to PUNCH Metro, the businessman stated that Olafaju called the New York Police Department on him for parking his food truck on a lane authorised for such by the state.
According to him, the first confrontation happened on Tuesday, July 5, 2022, at 42nd and 2nd Avenue, Midtown Manhattan, New York.
Speaking in the video, Oluwalogbon said, “Benjamin, who’s the Head of Chancery inside the Nigerian Embassy, came up with a story… he actually called the cops to come and remove a Nigerian food cart from the front of the Nigerian Embassy, that the cart was a security threat.
“The cops came and told him that that part of the street belonged to New York City and that as long as the cart was permitted with somebody inside, they could not do anything. So, he failed.
“On Friday, I was at the spot, a detective from NYPD came to me and my team, saying somebody called him from the Mayor’s office that this cart is not allowed to vend on Second Avenue.”
Oluwalogbon said when he explained that his cart was not the only one trading in the area, the detective opened up to him that it was Olafaju that called him for the assignment.
While lamenting in the video, Oluwalogbon stated that Olafaju, who ought to promote Nigerian businesses in the US as an official of the Nigerian Embassy, was seeking to pull him down.
When PUNCH Metro reached out to him, he revealed that the official once patronised his business.
He said, “I have not met him personally, but he was at the cart about six weeks ago. He came to the cart to buy food; that was how he had the opportunity to meet my wife.
“The first problem he had was that the camera in our cart was looking at the office where he stayed; that the direction of the camera should be turned. My wife made him know that there were cameras all over the city and asked to know how that particular camera was affecting him.”
Oluwalogbon said weeks later, Olafaju called the police on his business.
He said, “If anybody has to remove the cart, it has to be the Department of Health, not even the police. The police used to have that kind of power but last year, the mayor made a law which banned the police from harassing street vendors and gave the power to the Department of Health.”
He noted that some organisations, including law firms that worked for street vendors, were already showing interest in the case.
Efforts to reach Olafaju as of the time of filing this report proved abortive, as no response followed the messages sent to him via his Facebook and Instagram accounts.
An email sent to the Nigerian Embassy in New York on the situation did not get any response as of the time of filing this report.
Also, calls and messages put across to the phone of the Chairman of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, were not responded to.