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As tension brew among Yewa communities in Ogun State over disputed lands, the people of Idofoi, Owo and Ipaya have appealed to Governor Ibikunle Amosun, to urgently implement a 28-year-old judgment of the state Boundary Dispute Appeal Tribunal.
Justice Adewale Thompson of the Western Region High Court, which sat in Abeokuta, the state capital had on September 23, 1968, delivered a judgment conferring the proprietary interest and control of the lands in dispute on the descendants of Ondofoi, Etilaporan and Adegoolu, the respective founders of Idofoi, Owo and Ipaya communities in Ayetoro-Yewa.
The court, in suit number AB/20/64, had also decided that the lands owned and occupied by the people of the three communities and covered by Survey Plan L&LA/5530, did not belong to the Omala of Imala, another Yewa community, which is under the administrative control of the neighbouring Abeokuta North Local Government Council.
The tribunal had granted the Idofoi and others total ownership and control of their respective homelands located in Yewa North Local Government Area of the state.
Twenty-four years after the court’s decision, a judgment of the Ogun State Boundary Dispute Appeal Tribunal in suit number AB/27A/86, granted Yewa North Local Government also granted the legal right and delegation to administer and control everything above, on and under the land covered by Survey Plan L&LA/5530.
According to them, implementing the judgment had become imperative to avoid an escalation of the tension that had continued to mount in their areas for decades over the land between their Yewa kinsmen in Imala.
While urging Amosun to intervene in the crisis, the people also appealed to him to implement not only the letters, but also the spirit of the appellate tribunal’s judgment.
They also alleged and detailed what they described as the acts of violence, abductions and killings perpetrated against their kinsmen in Idofoi, Owo and Ipaya by the neighbouring Imala.
This, they said, was due to the non-implementation of the tribunal’s judgment by the state government.
The three communities which said it had been sending constant reminders and supplications since 1989, wondered why successive governments in the state had refused to implement the judgment which is the final court of appeal on the matter. The memorandum submitted to the Ogun State Boundary Adjustment Commission, was jointly signed by the traditional rulers of the affected communities, including the Baale of Idofoi, Ayetoro, Chief Olatunji Abioro; the Basorun-designate of Idofoi, Alhaji Bello Jimoh; the Baale-elect of Obada (Owo), Chief Jimoh Fagbohun;
Others who signed the memorandum were Olotu, Obada Owo, Senior Apostle Benjamin Oluwole; the Baale-elect of Ipaya Adegoolu, Chief Alao Olabode; and Ekerin of Ipayaland, Chief Waidi Adeyeri among others.
“We remain committed to the actualisation of our persistent demand neither to serve the Omala of Imala nor be governed by any local government/council other than the Yewa North Local Government Area,” they stated in the document.
According to them, ‘’’the boundary adjustment committee had no better role or concern on the issue of boundary adjustment between Oke-Ogun Local Council Development Area in Abeokuta North Local Government, Afon Local Council Development Area and Yewa North Local Government Area than to advise the state government to fully implement, without further delay, the July 6, 1989 judgment of the state Boundary Dispute Appeal Tribunal’’.
“When no action appeared to be taken, the three communities wrote an SoS petition dated November 11, 2013 to remind the governor of our hearts’ desires. The petition was signed by 2,403 indigenes of Idofoi/Owo/Ipaya and delivered to the Governor’s Office on November 23, 2013.
“As an elder statesman and traditional leader of a peace-loving people, the Baale of Idofoi, Ayetoro (tile-toko), Baale Olatunji Abioro JP, wrote a personal letter to the governor to ensure that justice was done to the people of Idofoi, Owo and Ipaya. The letter dated April 27, 2015, was sent through courier mail.”
The memorandum further stated: “The Idofoi, Owo and Ipaya communities have effectively utilised all necessary available administrative and legal processes in Ogun State with facts and documents, to prove conclusively, as descendants of Ondofoi, Adegoolu and Etilaporan, founders of Idofoi, Ipaya and Owo, respectively, that the piece of land contained in the Survey Plan No. L&LA 5530 rightly belong to Idofoi, Ipaya and Owo, respectively and the political administration is that of Yewa North Local Government.
“Any claim(s) by any local government or council other than Yewa North Local Government on any part of the land is illegal, unconstitutional, null and void and of no effect.
“Ogun State Boundary Committee cannot undertake fresh mandate to look into the matter already determined by the highest judicial authority in the state under an extant law of the state, which had jurisdiction over the matter-that is the Boundary Dispute Ogun State in AB/27A/86.
“The only panacea to lasting peace and accelerated socio-economic development of the disputed areas-Olodo, Atoku, Eleeweran, Obada Idi-Emi and all other areas covered by the judgment in suit AB/27A/86 is the immediate implementation of the judgment in suit number AB/27A/86.”
The memorandum also detailed the various unsuccessful efforts made by the three communities since 2007 to bring the existence of the 1989 judgment of the state Boundary Dispute Appeal Tribunal to the notice of Amosun for implementation.