By Olawale Abdul-Fatah
Hundreds of residents and Business owners in Agidingbi community, Ikeja, stormed Lagos State House of Assembly protesting against planned demolition over 2000 buildings on Lateef Jakande Road, Acme Road, Fagba Close, and other streets around the area.
Some of the buildings marked for the demolition, according to the protesters, include Daily Times Newspaper, Coca-Cola bottling company premises, Addas Mall, banks, and others.
The buildings sited on 398 acres of landed was awarded to traditional land-owning family, Akinole-Oshiun, by a Supreme Court judgement which the family enforced last Friday, marking the entire structures.
The protesters, who marched from Agidingbi to House of Assembly complex in Alausa, on Thursday, said Akinole-Oshiun family, which is the judgment-creditor in the case, had already given them seven days ultimatum to vacate their houses, urging the government to quickly intervene to avert bloodshed.
They were armed with placard with various inscriptions such as “There is no ancestral link between Akinole and Agidingbi Land, Land Grabbers are enemies of Lagos State,” among others.
According to the protesters, the State Government should urgently activate the provisions of the Land Grabbers Law and prevent the matter from degenerating into a full blown crisis.
Leader of Ojodu Legislative Arm, Wasiu Bolaji-Seidu who is also a community leader in Agidingbi said the news of the possession order came to the community as a big surprise as no one from the community was served court process before the court gave its verdict.
He said: “On Friday, they (judgment-creditor) brought a judgment and placed it on our houses and said they have taken over the entire Agidingbi land. The issue is Agidingbi was not mentioned in the judgment; nobody from Agidingbi was part of the case and I don’t know how you will enforce a judgment against a person that was never part of the case.
“Agidingbi has been in existence for over 200 years ago. I was born and bred in Agidingbi; my forefathers were born and bred in Agidingbi and I don’t see any reason why somebody will just wake up and say they are the owner of the community.
“I am over 50 years; my father lived for over 90 years in this community before he died; my great grand-father died at the age of 150 years and I don’t know where Akinole is coming from and we have people like Habibatu Mogaji who was the Yeye-Oba of Agidingbi; we have Femi Okunnu who is our father in the community and we don’t know where Akin-ole came from.”
“To the best of my knowledge, I know that Lagos State has enacted a law duly signed by the Governor prohibiting land grabbing in the State because this is a clear example of such case. That is why we are here to call on the Lagos State House of Assembly to look into it and find a lasting solution, failure of which there will be bloodshed,” Bolaji-Seidu said.
Also speaking, Baale of Agidingbi, Chief Ganiyu Haruna, said they were embarking on the peaceful protest to call the attention of government to the silent crisis that is brewing in the community.
Haruna said: “On Friday last week, we woke up to see people posting possession order on our property and we don’t know these people. We have been living here for several years and the issue is we don’t know this family that is laying claim to ownership of our land.
“We have never heard any relationship with this Akinole family and so it is surprising to us. Nobody knew anything about the court case. I mean how can you enforce court judgment against a party that was never part of the case? We are peaceful people and we are urging the Lagos State Government especially Governor Akinwunmi Ambode and the House of Assembly to intervene urgently in this matter because we don’t want bloodshed in our community.”
An 83-year old resident, who also doubles as Iyalode of Agidingbi, Dorcas Faworaja, argued that her great grand-parents were born in the area, therefore the claimant cannot just come from anywhere and lay claim to the community.
Responding to the plea of the protesters, the House Deputy Majority Leader, Olumuyiwa Jimoh, commended the protesters for conducting themselves peacefully, assuring that the House would look into their case.
“Let me assure you that we are going to look into your petition without any fear or favour and I can assure you also that you will receive judgment at the end of the day,” Jimoh added.