Nigeria: Land Grabbing - Lawyer Petitions Police Over Forceful Invasion of Property

21 June 2021

A Lagos lawyer, Mr. Tesleem Adewuyi and two landowning families in Majo Village, Orilemo Community in Obafemi Owode Local Government Area of Ogun State have petitioned the Ogun State Police Command over the forceful acquisition of their farmland by a company, Lavika Farms and members of a neighbouring Otesile family.

Adewuyi along with the families - Sosan Adalemo and Deyoruwa - in conjunction with Mr. Femi Alabi in their petition claimed that their farmland on which they have title and ownership was encroached upon by agents of Otesile Family and Lavika Farms, with armed thugs as their bulldozer and excavators destroyed their produce.

According to Mr. Adeyinka Olumide-Fusika, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and lawyers to the petitioners, the Otesile Family, upon destroying and laying claim to over six acres of the petitioners' land asked them to pay a ratification fee of N2,400,000 as a condition upon which the land already grabbed and allegedly sold to Lavika Farm would be returned.

Olumide-Fusika wrote that after this demand was rejected, and "while the discussion for amicable settlement was ongoing that persons claiming to be operating under the name of Lavika Farms and the Otesile Family again rolled in their bulldozer and started destroying the petitioners' crops on the land and now forcefully took over the petitioners' land measuring approximately 16 acres."

The petitioners claimed that the parcel of land initially encroached upon was sold by the Deyoruwa Family while the other one was sold to them by the Sosan Adalemo family, who said that they are the landowners and that they are surprised by the land-grabbing attitude of the Oyesile family who is their neighbours in the area.

Olumide-Fusika said that all efforts by the Bale of Orilemo community, where Majo village is located and elders of the community to call the invaders to order was rebuffed, even though the boundaries between each family have been spelt out by survey plans.

He said that since the invasion, "persons operating under the name of Lavika Farms and Otesile Family have stationed fully armed thugs and miscreants on the petitioners' land and have seriously warned the petitioners or those farming on the land not to come near their parcel of farmland otherwise they would be dealt with mercilessly."

The petitioners, therefore, called on the police to call Lavika Farms and the Otesile family to order, saying that "legitimate owners of properties are now being harassed, intimidated and beaten up by agents of Lavika Farms led by Adeolu Otesile, Deji Otesile and several others whose names we do not know.

"This ugly development has brought about a sense of insecurity in a once safe and peaceful community. The petitioners and their workers who depend on their respective parcels of farmland for their livelihood are now worried about the safety of their lives, properties and investments."

"The persons claiming to be operating under the name of Lavika Farms and the Otesile Family have constituted themselves into a parallel government and have vested themselves with authority to be the investigators, judges and enforcers over the petitioner' properties by invading and forcefully taking over the petitioners' farmland and in the process destroyed the crops on the petitioners' parcels of farmland without recourse to the protections afforded the petitioners under the laws of Ogun State and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria," he insisted.

He therefore called on the police to come to the aid of the petitioners by inviting and interviewing the parties, adding that "if this petition is found to be credible, then your office should initiate appropriate criminal charges against the land grabbers."

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