Members of Oreki Village in Eleko, Ibeju-Lekki Local Government have secured a court injunction restraining the Lagos State Government and its agents from encroaching on the community’s land.
The Baale of Oreki village, Chief Apena Adekunle, decried a situation where, despite Court injunctions retraining the Government from taking over their land, its agents are still going on with construction works on the said lands.
The villagers, who are mostly indigenes claimed that they are the ancestral owners, while others said they bought their land about 20-30 years ago from Oreki, Arowolo, Olowu, Olowopeju, and Ogunbawo families.
Chief Adekunle explained that “The government said in 2015 that they wanted to build Charity University in our community. Swiftly, they started making clandestine move to grab our land from us.
“But what we are seeing today is different from what they said which we had disagreed with. After the demolition and forceful takeover of our land, we heard they have started selling it to individuals at an outrageous amount.”
Also, Mr. Murphy Adebare, a stakeholder and the owner of a Gas Plant Factory with a partner from Arab worth over N1 billion, further explained that the land is their ancestral petrimony and those who acquired their land did that rightfully from families that owe the land.
“There’s what we call Customary owner of the Land which are the communities, villages, families that owns this particular land and we bought from them according to the law as the customary owners.”
While giving a clue to the extent they have gone in legalizing their ownership, Murphy added, “We had a village excision that was processed by the people but the government clandestinely revoked it to perfect their dubious act. They removed those documents from their systems in Alausa before they grabbed our land,” he reiterated.
He explained that in 2010, they tried to allocate the land to Bishop Obembe to build Charity University and we stood against it by going to the court and eventually secured judgment against him at the High Court, Igbosere.
“We didn’t stop there, as he signed an undertaking not to come back again and that was perfected at the Zone 2 Command of the Nigerian Police, Onikan.
“Which government does things fragrantly without recourse to the fact that human beings and citizens of the state are involved?
He narrated to our correspondent that prior to the demolition, government issued a 7-day order. “Unfortunately, three days later, precisely on 20 August, 2020 about 2 am in the night, they swooped on us with bulldozers and destroyed over 332 houses including my gas plant that has 43 workers,” Murphy reiterated.
The Baale, Chief Apena Adekunle told our correspondent that Government crept into Oreki Village with the intention to establish a Charity University through Bishop Obembe and we resisted it. We immediately (15 families) swung into action and sued them to court and that calmed the situation after securing judgment in our favour.
About two or six months ago, the government was said to have changed the concept of building a university and named our village Idera Scheme. “We were unsettled and we went to Alausa, and they said that’s what the government wanted.
“It is unfortunate that they have started selling the land to people which is against the law. Investigations, however revealed that they are selling 500 Square meters for about N12 million to private individuals. What we want is justice and it must take its course.
Since the demolition, Oreki village has been beseiged by individuals scavanging for a space to buy, it was learnt.
However, Segun Akala maintained, “I’ve had a land here since 1999 when it was still bushy. It was so bad that you couldn’t go in at some seasons. As at that time we bought from the family, we did due diligence and checked at Alausa and the land was not under any government acquisition or a committed land.
While citing the Land Use Act of 1978, pointed out that a government can only acquire land in public interest, maybe to build a railway, a hospital etc. Interestingly, the land Use Act does not permit the government to take land from Mr A and give it to Mr B.
“However, the worst you can do is ask Mr A to ratify it. Unfortunately, the Lagos state government came to bully us. They are greedy. You cannot displace people who have been here for the past 20 years,” Akala added.
Due to government arrogance and inhuman feeling for the people according to one of the displaced persons, Oreki Village took the matter to the Epe High Court for justice.
According to the Baale Adekunle, they secured an Order of Interlocutory Injunction restraining the Lagos State Government and its agents to stay action on the 20th August, 2020.
But sadly, our correspondent was told, a government that claimed to be obeying laws, disobeyed a High Court order and still building on a law they “illegally and forcefully grabbed from the owners,” Murphy further explained.
It was gathered that the order was filed by Chief Yakubu Olowu, the Baale of Oreki-Alakun; Hon. Olayinka Saidu, the Secretary of Oreki village; Mr Issa Samusideen, who sued for Bamgbose Family; Alhaji Mufutau Olowopejo (Olowopejo Family); Mr Jokotola Olowu (Olowu Ogunkalu family); Mr Taibu Balogun (Oshibote family); Alhaji Jafau Saliu (Ashana Ogun family); and Mr Olabode Muraino (Oguntuyo Ogunbawo family).
Others are Mr Waliu Akobada (Ogunle family); Mr Kadiri Olowu (Olowu family); Mr Olamilekan Shafau (Shafau family); Mr Kabiru Tansiru (Ogeye family); Mr Abudu Salu (Tijani family) and Mr Saidu Ogeye (Rashidi family).
Based on the order, the respondents have been restrained not to carry out further action detrimental to the owners of the land.
Such respondents in the suit included The Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu; the Attorney General of Lagos state; the Surveyor General of Lagos state; the Commissioner, Lagos State Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development; the Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Lands Bureau; the Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Environment and the Lagos State Task Force on Environment.
In the said order obtained In the High Court No 40 Epe Judicial Division on Thursday, 20th Day of August, 2020 before the Lordship Hon. Justice G.A. Safari was signed by the Senior Registrar, Agbedina Usman.
Part of the Suit No: EPD/7180GCMW2020 is quoted as saying that: “An order of interim injunction is hereby granted restraining the respondents either by themselves, their servants, agents, privies, assigns, surrogates, workmen or anyone claiming through them or howsoever called from demolition and destruction of the applicants’ houses, buildings, fences and other structures, erected on their rural community land situate at Oreki-Alakun village, under Ibeju-Lekki local government Area of Lagos State as shown in the Survey Plan No: ASC/5053/LA/2001 pending the determination of Motion on Notice Interlocutory Injunction dated 17th August, 2020.”
While some described it as “merciless bravado”, some said “it was an earthquake that befell them” as government agents descended on Oreki village on the 17th August, 2020, as Lagos State government mobilized troops of Egbeyemi Task Force from Alausa-Ikeja and besieged the community dishing out orders that the stakeholders and the residents numbering above 300 should within seven days vacate the place they have lived for over two decades.
“They barked that they were going to forcefully evict us,” it was gathered. However, before the expiration of the seven days, precisely three days after issuing the impromptu order, “they came by 2am in the midnight with excavator and treated us like an outcast; levelled our priced homes and rendered us homeless in a country we called our own. Where lies justice for the common man? Murphy asked quizzically.
“They were merciless, inhuman and behaved as if they have never lived in a house. They invaded the village like a behemoth and destroyed our houses, our patriachs, our schools, churches leading to the destruction of over 300 houses in less than 24 hours,” he added.
At the moment, it was gathered that over 3,000 people have been rendered homeless; several jobs lost including 43 workers at the gas factory.
Our check revealed that residents of the Oreki village who lived in their comfortable built homes before, have been relegated and now live in make-shift homes popularly known as “Pako” or
“Just as we were coming in terms with the realities of Covid-19 pandemic, this wicked administration in Lagos State struck in the dead of the night and rendered us homeless, Murphy, explained to our correspondent at Oreki village.
“The government of Babajide Sanwo-Olu has not been sincere with them hence they rushed to the court to seek for justice and protect their investments,” another resident intoned.
Expressing his frustration, Mr Segun Akala noted that he had a one storey building and some plots of land but what we have observed from government action is “immoral” and has not shown as a government for the people.
“Let them explain to us their mission at Oreki village. They are not for the people. We were an organised estate and I’m saying this land was developed by the inhabitants. After suffering to build this place and modernised it, it is now government of Babajide Sanwo-Olu wants to take it over. It’s wrong but every action has its consequences,” Segun Akala reiterated.
All we are saying is that the Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu and his agents should vacate our land. The land belongs to us and there is no where a government takes land from the original owner and sell it to another person.
“We have over 3,000 hectares of land that have been taken over by the government of Babajide Sanwo-Olu. Their initial gimmick was that they wanted to use it for school but from every indication, there is no iota of truth.
The villagers vowed that they would intensify their agitations to retain their possession and would, therefore, resort to the instrumenality of protest to Alausa, Toll Gate, and the Governor’s office to drive home their course.
“We are not going to accept this menacingly lugubrious act by the Lagos state government considering that they are claiming to be bigger than the law. If they truly believe in the rule of law and obey people’s right which they claim to preach, they should abide by this court injunction,” the villagers concluded.