Sensing possible community unrest that could lead to disturbance of peace in the state, the Lagos State Government has waded into a land ownership crisis by raising a committee, giving the mandate to bring the warring parties to a roundtable.
The state’s intervention is over a large parcel of built area located within Ejigbo Local Council Development Area (LCDA) of the state.
The move became necessary following allegations of move by some individuals, who through a court judgment were claiming ownership of the controversial land, thereby initiating force to eject the occupants.
Speaking while addressing the Ilamoshe community residents, the Senior Special Assistant to the governor on Justice Sector Reforms, Mr. Lanre Akinsola, who spoke on behalf of the Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Ade Ipaye, said that the state government had received the petition on the matter and had since set up a committee to resolve it.
He said: “The attorney general has presently constituted a machinery to bring all parties involved, because we have heard from your own side, and it would not be right to jump into conclusion. We have not seen a copy of the judgment; we have only heard what you said. A committee has been set up to that effect and I can assure you that before the end of this week, all the parties involved, the litigants, the appellants and the court of appeal and their lawyers involved will be brought to a round table. We have made efforts to reach the lawyers and very soon, all the parties concerned will be invited because I believe that’s the best way to resolve the matter when we get them to state their own side of the case”.
Protesting last week, about 130 residents of the community had demanded for immediate intervention of the government over denial of entrance to their houses.
The protesters arrived the secretariat at about 11am with placards, some of which read, ‘Ilamoshe under siege’, ‘Our house are under lock and key’, Save our soul’, ‘Save us from Odunsi and Ojo’, ‘I am 87 years old, I can’t sleep under the bridge’, I’m a widow, I can’t sleep under the bridge’, amongst others.
According to the Chairman of the Ilamoshe Community Development Association, Mr. Val Iwuchukwu, hoodlums supposedly working for one Samuel Ojo family, a landowner had allegedly locked the residents out of their houses since August 5, 2011.
He said that one Mr. Cornelius Odunsi, counsel to the Samuel Ojo family had served the residents quit notice for illegally occupying the land that did not belong to them.
Iwuchukwu explained that the residents had purchased about 150 plots of land from one Odubada family about 30 years ago but was surprised that another family, Samuel Ojo, could lay claim to the land now through a court judgment.
The Ojo family won the case against the Odubada family both at the High and Appeal Courts over the land matter and had since informed the residents to leave the place.
However, in respect of the law, the residents had inaugurated a committee to dialogue with Ojo family through its counsel, Odunsi but their efforts failed.
Iwuchukwu said that Odunsi had refused to dialogue with the association demanding that each landlord perfects his or her title document individually.
“That is why we have come to seek the Governor to intervene. There are over 100 thugs now in the community that are tormenting our children. There are over 130 families that have been unjustly ejected from their homes by the hoodlums,” he said.
Chairman of the council, Mr. Kehinde Bamigbetan, who led the residents, said that the protest was aimed at seeking the intervention of the state government to compel the plaintiff to open the locks to enable the residents’ access to their abode.
He added that in executing the court judgment, Odunsi had exceeded the stipulated boundary, thus affected residents who had nothing to do with the judgment.
“We are demanding the immediate unlocking of all gates of houses that have been locked for the past one week. We are demanding that the lawyer, Mr. Odunsi, should be brought to the round table so that we can engage him and know the configuration of his territory.”
Counsel to the plaintiff, Odunsi, however defended his actions saying he obtained valid court judgment on the rightful ownership of the disputed land.
He also revealed that some of the residents had started complying with the order by coming forward to regularise their titles.
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Source: The Guardian