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Community residents over land disputes

26.05.2024 Featured Igbodu Residents Live in Fear Over Invasion by Land Grabbers

Published 26th May, 2024

By Olayide Soaga

Since thugs barged into their community and began inscribing “possession taken” on the walls of their homes on December 19, 2023, the residents of the Igbodu community, Ijede Local Development Council are of Ikorodu, Lagos State, have bid goodbye to peace.

A wave of violence, oppression and intimidation was ushered in, and the memories of the events that transpired on that day are still fresh in the minds of the residents.

Olalekan Salau, a pastor residing in the community, told FIJ that it would have been a regular day if land grabbers had not walked into the community in the company of thugs and police officers.

“We just saw some people come into the community in the company of thugs and police officers. It was later that we discovered they were land grabbers. They began writing ‘possession taken’ on the walls of people’s homes. When we attempted to dialogue with them, they began beating up residents and painting people’s faces,” said Salau.

According to the residents, this community, a developed town where the breadth and length have been occupied by structures, is home to over 600 houses.

Odunnuga Olorunfunmi, another resident, told FIJ that people had bought lands individually and settled all the parties that needed to be settled before they began building their houses in the community.

He added that the land grabbers began to request the sum of N7.5 million from each resident despite having documents that prove they bought the lands before they began building on them.

READ ALSO: Over Land Tussle in Imo, Police Keep Man in Abuja Custody for a Month — ‘Because Powerful Ex-Military Officer Is Involved’

“I moved into this community years ago, and I bought the land for the sum of N350,000 at the time, but these land grabbers are saying they want to resell the land for another N7.5 million or they will demolish our houses,” said Odunnuga.

COURT JUDGMENT, FORGED DOCUMENTS, VICTIMISATION

Salau told FIJ that the land grabbers were taking advantage of the death of the baale, the community’s traditional ruler, to oppress them and falsify court documents.

“Our baale died in 2020. Before his death, there was a case in court regarding the boundary of this community, which was resolved before his demise. After his death, the Dehinde descendants, who are the land grabbers, went back to court and introduced themselves as co-complainants and reopened the case,” said Salau.

“They used the opportunity that the baale is now late to smuggle in dubious issues. Since the court did not see our baale‘s representative at the hearings, the judgment was given in their favour. When we got the judgment, our lawyers went through the proceedings and discovered several anomalies in it.”

He added that the court case has been reopened, yet the land grabbers instigate violence in the community by kidnapping residents, writing petitions that reek of falsehood against the residents to the police, threatening to kill them and even using police officers to arrest them.

“They come to the community to beat people up. They used the police to arrest a Muslim cleric in front of his house. He was labeled a criminal and detained for two days. Last week, they arrested another person, and we went to bail him out. We have even offered to dialogue and negotiate with them, but they have resorted to using force,” Salau told FIJ.

A resident who was beaten up by thugs hired by the land grabbers
A resident who was beaten up by thugs hired by the land grabbers
A resident who was beaten and injured by thugs hired by the land grabbers
A resident who was beaten and injured by thugs hired by the land grabbers

FIJ also learned that the Dehinde descendants wrote a petition to the office of the Deputy Inspector-General of Police in Abuja, accusing the residents of criminal conspiracy, unlawful possession of firearms, cultism and attempted murder, among other offences.

A copy of the letter of invitation sent to some of the residents by the FCID
A copy of the letter of invitation sent to some of the residents by the FCID

Odunnuga told FIJ that they were invited by the Deputy Inspector-General of Police to the Force Criminal Investigations Department (FCID), Abuja, in April.

“We honoured the invitation, but when we got there, we did not meet the Dehinde descendants who had accused us of all these atrocities,” he said.

READ ALSO: Oba Abdulazeez Gbadabiu of Ikotun ‘Aiding Land Grabbers to Repossess Land Sold in 1977’

‘I CAN NO LONGER LIVE IN MY HOME’

Odunnuga told FIJ that the oppression had become so unbearable that he had to flee from home.

“They were looking for me so they could victimise me, but God has not given me to them yet. I keep running away from my house because they are after our lives. Some hoodlums came to my house one midnight and wanted to burgle my house before our local security intervened,” Odunnuga lamented.

DENIED ALLEGATIONS

When FIJ contacted Olufemi Mabunmi, one of the descendants of Dehinde accused of spearheading the violent attacks in the community and leading the land grabbers, he denied the allegations.

“I sincerely appreciate your attempts to verify the credibility of the information presented to you by the residents of the community. The information you were given is false,” he said.

“The land you are talking about belongs to the Dehinde descendants’ family, and we are not thugs.”

He also accused the residents of being land grabbers and judgment debtors.

When this reporter inquired if it were indeed true that he instigated violence in the community by employing the services of thugs and police officers, he referred this reporter to Adefolaju Oloko, the Dehinde descendants’ legal counsel.

FIJ contacted Oloko on Saturday and also sent him a message, but he did not respond.

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Published 26th May, 2024

By Olayide Soaga

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