By Vera Wisdom-Bassey
August 17, 2020 remains indelible to Oreki-Alakin villagers in Eleko Ibeju-Lekki as resident were woken up by sound of excavators, tractors from Lagos State Task-Force who had come demolish their property of over 300 houses without allegedly following due process.
The people of the village in Ibeju-Lekki Local Government Area of Lagos were in thrown into deep sorrow as they watched their houses, including schools, hospitals, churches, and gas plant being destroyed.
Today they are displaced without a home to call their own, as most of them are squatting with family, friends and relations.
According to the Baale of Oreki-Alakun Village, the Lagos State government took over 152 hectares of land after the demolition exercise without prior notice.
He said: “On this fateful day tractors came with load of task force men from Lagos Stated around 2:00am in the morning while occupants were still sleeping and begin demolition.
Stakeholders, owners of properties and Baale of Oreki-Alakun village spoke to journalist during the briefing.
Mr. Adebare Murphy, a stakeholder speaking with journalists on what transpired, claimed he had a gas plant factory with his partner who are Arabs, that is worth over one billion naira, that was demolished.
According to him, “On August 17, personnel of the Lagos State Task Force from Alausa had visited them and handed down a seven days notice to them and the over 300 residents of the area, to vacate the area.
He explained that before the completion of seven days, the Task Force returned in wee hours of the night, by 2am and without giving us opportunity to evacuate destroy our houses, our schools, churches, over 300 houses were destroyed in less than 24 hours”.
Upon seeing this they rushed down to the court, to demand why the government should intruding into their lands and disposes them of their lands and destroy their property, since lands is only for public usage according to Land Use Act law, but instead of using the land for public usage they began selling them to other people that is why they came out to agitate. “According to law, there’s what we call customary owner of the Land which are the communities, villages, families that owns this particular land”.
The lands in questions we bought them from five different families which includes the Oreki family, Arowolo family, Olowu family, Olowopeju family, and Ogunbawo family, A lot of people bought their lands since 20 to 30 years ago but I bought my own 9 years ago, but according to a court injunction which was served at Epe High Court with Suit No: EPD/7180 GCMW/2020 there was an Interim Order restraining any of them from carrying out anything until the matter is resolved, but the Lagos state government is not keeping to it, but has gone ahead to fence the place.
Adebare therefore said that since the Epe High Court has given an injunction to restrict every one of them in this land that nobody should come to this land till the final conclusion of the case. We have served them the court’s injunction but they have refused to abide by it because you can see that they have sold the lands to another person which is against the law. They are selling 12 million per 500 sq meters to private individuals and I warned them that when the governor’s term expires, we will get back our land because I believe justice must take place,
Visit to the government
We have gone down to the ministry but they sent us away saying that they want to use the land for Charity University but they are not doing that. We have sent our message to the governor, my letter is on his table but they insisted it’s a public land and the government has taken over the land that nobody should do anything on the land and we have taken our time to go to the court but they frustrate the Epe High court not to give us this injunction but Glory be to God we later got the court injunction.
The governor and his people should go away from this land, this land has never belong to them, government has no right to collect land from them and sold it to another person.
What we want from Government
Even though government comes with any compensations, if they have never come with a normal ground to address us to dialogue before beginning the demolition, even though Lagos state comes with arrangement, our take is very simple, they should return our land back to us, they should pay owners of those structures that were demolished compensations.
Over 300 people are homeless now, they live in Pako areas and this happened after the pandemic, you can see what this present administration have done, destroyed over 300 houses and now people are homeless.
We are going to this protest to Alausa, toll gate, the governor’s office, we are not going to accept this, Lagos state government are not bigger than the law, they should abide by the law because they preach the law, they should abide by this injunction.
Baale of Oreki Village
Also Chief Apena Adekunle, Baale Oreki village, Ibeju Lekki, Lagos area, was quick to say that they want just one or two things from the government because in 2015, they told them they want to build Charity university here but then all the families selling lands were about 15 families and this same 15 families sued Lagos state to court.
Until about two or six months ago, they changed the name of the University from Charity University to Idera Screen, we were surprised because it was Charity university, when we went to Alausa, they said that’s what the government want, but then they are now selling lands of about 500 square meters for 12 million and we need a lot of schools, markets, here they did not do it for us. They took over 152 hectares of land and it’s really saddening to us. All the people the families have sold land for are now taking us to court, what do we want to say here, we are not the ones that are reselling the lands but the government and we spoke out to government but they didn’t do anything but when we the owners starts fighting over our property, they will claim that we are touts and we are fighting them. They are not using the lands for community purpose , they are selling it to private individuals, Please save us from the government, he cried.
Según Akala, one of the owners of the properties demolished
Another Mr. Segun Akala occupants whose houses was demolished had lands there since 1999 by the time it was grown with bushes, as at that time, we bought from the family, we did due diligence, due diligence at that time. was a bit different from 2020 as at that time you check government acquisition, it’s not a committed land.
In any case when we talk about government acquisition even by that Land Use Act of 1978, a government can acquire land in public interest but they are not trying to build a railway, they are not trying to build a hospital, the land Use Act does not permit the government to take land from Mr A to dash to Mr B, the worst you can do is ask Mr A to ratify, they came here, they are bullies, greedy people. This very piece of land is no ordinary land, this land here was developed by us ourselves, I know how much land I parted with to fill the gap rather than take money out of my pocket. In any case, the government did not follow due process, they are acting like bully and the truth behind government decision is greed, we are not happy; you cannot displace people who have been here for 20 years. I’m being diplomatic, there will be consequences, he said.