27 November 2009

Nigeria: Ayobo Community Petitions Fashola Over Land Grabbers

Lagos — Irked by activities of land grabbers, the Ayobo community in Lagos State has written a letter of protest to the Lagos State governor, Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola, the State Police Commissioner, Mr Marvel Akpoyibo.

They want the state government to wade into the matter to avoid a breakdown of law and order in the community.

Ayobo, which is made up of about 79 streets, is inhabited by over a million people.

In preparation for the protest, the community, through its lawyer, Mr Jiti Ogunye has written to the Commissioner of Police to notify him of their intention.

In a petition by Ogunye to the state governor, Mr Babatunde Fashola SAN, the community stated that trouble started when one Ekundayo Arimiyau Bello got a judgement in an undefended suit before Justice O.A Williams of the Ikeja Judicial division of Lagos High Court. Bello had claimed that he is the owner of 98 acres of land comprising of 12 communities at Ayobo.

The suit filed in 1992 before the court passed through three judges- Justice Sikiru Adagun, Justice Yusuph, and Justice Williams, who eventually delivered judgement in October 24, 2004. Not satisfied with the judgement, the Alayobo of Igbo- Ologbo, Oba Arole Idowu Ojo-Ijo approached Justice Lawal Akapo of Ikeja High Court where he contested the claims of Bello.

Justice Akapo subsequently granted an interim order restraining Bello to execute judgement pending the determination of the suit before him. Rather than wait till the end of the suit, Bello allegedly hired Kaka, a land grabber that has unleashed mayhem on the community since June 2009.

The community particularly complained about the activities of one Moruf Owonla aka Kaka who they complained of destroying their properties and had even killed one of the landlords. The community members claimed that Kaka is acting in connivance with some top hierarchy policemen in Abuja which they said accounted for the reason the state government have not done anything about their plight.

Kaka is alleged to have the sympathy of the former Inspector General of Police, Mr Mike Okiro who the community believed has used his office to assist him, even going to the extent of arresting and detaining Oba Ojo-Ijo and his chiefs for several days at the force headquarters, Kam Salem house, Abuja.

The Lagos State government has warned against the activities of Land grabbers in the state, especially at Ayobo. In a statement signed by the Permanent Secretary, Lands Bureau, Gbenga Ashafa, the state warned against ' the activities of individuals who embark on violent means to acquire innocent citizens land and who deliberately cause chaos that always culminate into wanton destruction of lives and properties are inimical to state government interest and duty to protect lives and properties of citizens including the maintenance of public order within the state'.

Ogunye in his letter to the police also stated that the community seek the presence of a police contigent on the day of procession to provide security, crowd monitoring, and traffic control.

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