How Suspected Land grabbers sacked Lagos Community, as residents allege Police of complicity - SALIENT TIMES ONLINE

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Friday, 25 June 2021

How Suspected Land grabbers sacked Lagos Community, as residents allege Police of complicity

By Our Correspondent


In 2016, former Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode signed the Lagos State Property Protection Law into law which prohibits forceful entry and illegal occupation of landed properties, violent and fraudulent conducts in relation to landed properties in Lagos State and prescribes severe penalties with various prison terms for different offenses.

Despite this, some communities in the state are yet to comply with the law thereby making life miserable for residents.

Oke Ota-Ona area of Ikorodu seems to be among the areas which have fallen into the category of non compliance and this has led to the death of some innocent citizens and have rendered many homeless.

The community located along Ota-Ona/Itamaga Road, is said to be a trouble spot such that it has been deserted by residents as some suspected land grabbers have pitched their tent in the area attacking, harassing, maiming and embarrassing people at will since year 2019 till date.


The parcel of land in question was said to be acquired by the defunct Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL) in the year 1963 via the official gazette of December 29, 1960, Public Land Acquisition Ordinance Chapter 167, No. 2514 from the acclaimed land owners who were said to comprise of four families namely the Reguns, Dada Kayoolus, Jabitas and Ayobere who were peasant farmers and their crops were enumerate and paid for by NITEL


When NITEL was disposed, the acclaimed land owners were said to have earnestly expected a return of their landed property but this never turned out so, rather, some unscrupulous element from the defunct NITEL allegedly connived with some suspected land grabbers who feigned to be legitimate families to sell part of the land for public use.


This prompted the acclaimed land owners to head for the court to seek injunction and their prayers were granted. 


SalientTimes gathered that in order to avoid forceful eviction of the occupants, the land owners called for a meeting with them where the court injunction was presented and the occupants were said to  have pleaded for leniency by entering into fresh negotiations with the acclaimed land owners.  


In an undefined twist, a copy of the judgment was said to have miserably leaked to the land grabbers who were said to have applied variable means to ensure they forcefully evicted the occupants through illegal demolition of structures where many were maimed, injured and killed.


As this was ongoing, the cry of the masses filtered into the state Police Commissioner, CP Hakeem Odumosu who in his proactiveness intervened by halting the illegality and inviting all the parties involved but the crises still continued. 


In their quest to get justice, the acclaimed land owners pressed further by petitioning higher authorities and some suspected land grabbers were arrested on February 18, 2020 and charged to court while the case was adjourned till April 15, 2020 unfortunately Covid-19 Pandemic, lock down, curfew and EndSARS Protests disrupted the process as the Magistrate Court got razed during the period. .


Along the line, a member of the community was said to have used his influence to mobilise Mobile Policemen to guard his property.


Despite that, the land grabbers were said to have restrategised and consistently attacked the community.


Angered by the situation, the acclaimed legitimate land owners petitioned the higher Police authorities who conducted investigations and arrested ten suspected land grabbers on March 19, 2021.


Following the arrests, the suspected land grabbers who perceived that the action of the Mobile Policemen may have been unofficial were said to have regrouped to attack the Mobile Policemen. 


This ended up in a shootout and one Wale Erinfolami was allegedly gunned down and this has brought about allegations and counter allegations amongst the fielding parties.


 Wale’s widow, Bukola claimed that at about 7am on the fateful day, her late husband left home for the trouble spot to hawk shoes only for her to receive a phone call at about 9am about his death.


She claimed that 27 years old Wale was a welder who usually hawked shoes in the area unfortunately, he was murdered and his corpse was taken away by the Police and deposited at the morgue. She said, ‘I could not state specifically what led to his death but all I heard was that some people were fighting with Mobile Policemen and my husband was murdered,’’


 Asked the various steps she has taken on the matter, she said, ‘’his great grandmother hailed from the community and that gave him access to the place, "his family is taking steps to ensure justice is done.  We had three children ages six and a set of twins who are barely a year old but his family and friend have been taken care of us since the incident occurred. They even asked me to be calm as they are on top of the matter,’’.said the widow.


During investigations, Our Correspondent smuggled herself into the troubled area by disguising as a lunatic to Oke Ota-Ona where some fierce looking men were noticed within and around the vicinity such that vehicular and economic activities were on stand still.


It was gathered that one of the Mobile Policemen Idris Sikiru at the scene was ropped to be the killer of Wale but enough evidences could not be established as the autopsy report is yet to be conducted and the source of the death revealed.


Sources said the alleged Policeman was armed with canisters and not live amunition as at the time of the incident.  


However, building activities were observed though protected by the fierce looking men.


Along the major road leading to the community, there was apprehension at the mention of Oke Ota-Ona.


SalientTimes findings revealed that late Wale was not a welder by profession as the leadership of Ikorodu welders denied his membership.


Also, he was said to be among the suspected land grabbers until he was fell by the bullet. 


In a chat with some neighbours, they urged the government to find a lasting solution tlo the land grabbing issues that have claimed many lives in Oke Ota- Ona. One of them Mr. Akande Johnson said he dreads going to the trouble spot for fear of the unknown, ‘’Ha! I once lived in that community but narrowly escaped being lynched and since then, I have no business with that place,’’ he said.


Last Tuesday, a road side trader near the environment (names withheld) whispered into Sunday Vanguard's hear that embarking on a sojourn to Oke Ota-Ona could be risky ’Madam, don’t dare Oke Ota-Ona if you cherish your life because the place is deadly,’’ she said.  


This reporter came in contact with an eye witness of the March 19 attack, Alhaji Alani Adedayo who said, "this area used to be very lively but now deserted. Wale was never a welder nor trader in many ways but his involvement in land grabbing activities led to his death,"


 Last Thursday, the Chairman, Lagos State Special Taskforce on Land Grabbers, Mr Moyosore Onigbanjo called a stakeholders meeting on land grabbing in Ikorodu Division where land grabbing issues were discussed.


The meeting with theme "andgrabbers, the law and your rights," took place at Ikorodu Town Hall where riot acts were read.


It was attended by prominent stakeholders who frowned at incessant land grabbing activities in Lagos State with emphasis on Ikorodu. 


Represented by an Assistant Commissioner of Police in-charge of Operations in Lagos, Mr Oladotun Odugbona, Lagos State Commissioner of Police, CP Hakeem Odumosu who was represented by aid that land grabbing could not be done without conspirators within. He said, “There are laws regarding land grabbing; our job is to arrest, investigate and prosecute.