Rights group wants Sanwo-Olu’s intervention over alleged intimidation of Ijegun landlords
The attention of the Lagos State Government has been drawn by Human Rights Monitoring Agenda (HURMA) on the alleged plot by some individuals who have been using their closeness to the corridors of power in Lagos State to terrorise law-abiding landlords and residents of Ijegun/Ijedodo/Ijagemo axis with threats to demolish their houses and confiscate their lands earned by years of sweat and toil.
The alleged intimidation is being carried out on the false pretense and information that the Lagos State Government under the leadership of Babajide Sanwo-Olu is abandoning the original Master Plan which certified those properties as legally acquired and out of the Right Of Way (ROW) of government for a new undisclosed one that “urgently” seeks to demolish their properties.
During a protest at Lagos State House of Assembly on Monday, the Executive Director of Human rights monitor, Buna Olentan Isak said the findings of their organisation revealed that those pushing this plot – some of them in highly placed positions – are the real culprits who have gone to acquire lands and properties on the designated Right of Way (adjacent to the one in question) that the road infrastructure is meant to traverse in the original Master Plan, and who are now desperately seeking to upturn and divert the original plan in order to save their own skin and make innocent law-abiding citizens pay for their own brazen effrontery at law-breaking.
Isak said this is injustice laden with impunity and that he believed Lagos State cannot, and will not descend into a jungle where some devour the rights of others by sheer reason of might under your watch.
Accordingly, the Ijegun/Ijedodo affected Landlords Committee at whose instance this petition and protest is backed upon did not only purchase their properties legally as distinct from the other area designated as right of way for the road project as obtained in the original Master Plan of 1972 (and as seen and described in the original layout with the Ministry of Lands and the Office of the Surveyor General of Lagos State), their right of legal acquisition of those lands was also recognised in the adapted version of the original Master Plan by Alimosho Local Government under the Alimosho Mega City Plan 2010-2020.
This goes to show and is also a proof that the area in question which lies and situates at the right hand side of NNPC pipeline and connects five junctions of Ijegun through Ijedodo to Abule Ado with about 800 houses including 11 places of worship neither encroaches on Government acquisition, nor violates the Master Plan.
It neither contravenes the Right of Way nor is it built under any high tension transmission lines. It is neither under any NNPC corridor nor built on any drainage system to warrant demolition, and the people have lived in that place for over 40 years.
He said the first attempt of this sinister plot to eviscerate the right of these people and make them bear the wrong burdens of breach of government original plan by these privileged and powerful plotters happened on the 27th of August 2020 when officials from the Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development came to mark houses in the area for demolition without citing any reason. Petitions were sent to appropriate quarters but without any positive response.
And the subsequent visit by officials of the Lagos State Physical Planning Permit Authority (LASPPA) to the two sites – the legal site belonging to the Landlords and residents at whose instance this petition is written, and the other site where the road infrastructure was meant to traverse originally- vindicated the right of the former as not constituting any violation with landmark pillars as evidence.
According to him, there was also a visitation by members of the Lagos State House of Assembly which promised to make the report of its finding public but which has not done so till date.
The concerned landlords and residents thereafter, instituted a court process which prompted the Ministry of Works and Infrastructure to hurriedly organise and call for a supposed ‘Stakeholders’ meeting slated for 23/02/2021 ostensibly meant to resolve the matter. However, five days to the stakeholders’ meeting, the same Ministry served a notice of removal via a Punch newspaper advertorial titled ‘Removal of Structure within the Right of Way of Ijedodo Road in Alimosho Local Government Area’ on the residents of the area which was promptly responded to by the landlords and residents via the same newspaper, dated 21/10/2021.
This use of under-the-arm tactic convinces us the more of the illegality of the entire enterprise with the use of official government apparatuses. Needless to say the stakeholders’ meeting ended in a deadlock while the case subsists in the court of law.
However, in desperate moves by the sponsors of this agenda to usurp the legally acquired right of the landlords and residents of Ijegun/Ijedodo/Ijagemo axis, resort has been made by the pushers of this plot to the use of extra-judicial, nonetheless, illegal and egregious means to achieve this ignoble and satanic objective.
Of note in this regard is the role played by the following people: Mr. Salako, Mrs. Aramide, Mr. Ayuba (all staff of Lagos State Government) in concert with the Baale of Ijedodo, the new Oba of Ibaland and his spokesperson, Mr. Lawanson, all of whom have vowed to unleash mayhem as strategy to evict the rightful owners of those places from their abode.
He said on the 28th of July 2021, a group of miscreants and land-grabbers (popularly called Omo-Oniles) came to mark the houses again for demolition, while a few days after, the Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development with Land Bureau officials and supported by a team of armed men terrorised the entire vicinity for three days, forcefully entering people’s homes, taking snap shot of properties as marked for demolition.
They were also, irresponsibly asking for owners of properties and their phone numbers, all in the brazen illegal attempt to stampede these people to capitulate into the whole idea of having them ejected for no wrong reasons.
It remains to us a puzzle while those who have done their due diligence before acquiring lands certified by government as free of all official encumbrances should be made to suffer this spate of sustained violence, while the real culprits who built on the right of way of the original Master Plan hide behind these façade and live seemingly in peace. The irony of the entire plot is that the original Master Plan meant for the road infrastructure is still selling as we speak.
We wish to bring it to your notice Sir, that due to this constant harassment and infliction of physical pains and violence with attendant psychological and physiological consequences, about six landlords in the area have died of causes related to heart attacks while four are currently battling with stroke.
As the matter intensifies and with the injunction of the Lagos State High Court Ikeja restraining the plot to demolish those houses (Suit No: ID/7471GCMW/2020), there have been spurious reasons adduced by some lawmakers in the Lagos State House of Assembly that the reason for the diversion from the original plan was to save cost for the government.
This claim in itself points to the brigandage approach of those pushing the plot. For instance, when did the debate to alter the original Master Plan take place? Where is the cost/benefit analysis which convinces of cost as a priority made known to members of the public? When and where was the debate outcome gazetted and what detailed transparent plans were put in place to give the so-called new plan any force of law?
It is apparent that what is at play is the attempt by a few group of people united in their sinister plot to inflict pains and miseries on law-abiding, innocent citizens as a decoy to avoid paying the price for their own crime of violating governmental plans and procedures.
We are confident that as a fair-minded, justice-driven and upright father of all, you will rise to this occasion to unmask the plotters who are making the lives of innocent and law-abiding citizens miserable for no just cause.
Our interaction with the people of the area, especially the youth, suggests that an attempt to allow this evil plot to materialise without nipping it in the bud portends a crisis that may make the recent #ENDSARS protest a child’s play.
Besides, cases of use of government apparatus by individuals to usurp the right of others have been found to be on the increase in the state.
This large scale unprecedented effort to save the skin of a few violators who considered themselves as sacred cows while ruining the lives of innocent and law-abiding citizens through the phantom excuse of saving cost should be rejected and called to order. The human tragedy that is emerging from this broad daylight injustice with citizens already dying must be halted.
We therefore, demand and anticipate your urgent intervention to mitigate the sufferings of these people, restore their rights, and protect them from further attacks from hawks donning the garb of officialdom.
Addressing the Landlords and residents of the area at the Lagos State House of Assembly, Honourable Kehinde Joseph who represented the Speaker said the House is aware of the pains the people over there are going through and that as a member representing the area, he knows that they are not being treated fairly as the original is been distorted and not followed. He said he was briefed very late on the matter but promised that justice would be done on the matter.
According to Honourable Joseph, they are right in their protest and commended them on the orderly and peaceful manner they are going about it and asked them to continue to be peaceful.
He said he did a personal investigation on the matter and found out that they are right on their protest as there is original master plan to construct a ten-lane road from that place to Mile 2. “But it was when they were doing the costing that the issue you are protesting came about,” he said.
He told the Landlords and residents of the area that the State House of Assembly was in the same position with them as it was discovered that they built their houses on government approved plan with C of O.
He said firstly I want to commend you people on the peaceful and orderly manner you people are going about the whole issue and promise them that the Lagos State House of Assembly under the leadership of Rt. Honourable Mudashiru Ajayi Obasa will not condone illegal activities because you people built your houses there with legal documents. We are in tandem with your plight and position on the matter. I want again to plead with you people to continue the peaceful way you are going about the whole issue as the issue will be addressed very soon.
But the Landlords and residents of the area through their Chairman, Pastor Clement Nokwamchukwu made an important demand from the State Government to go back to the original master plan. Secondly, the state government should tell the contractors and Omo-Oniles to stay away from our houses and environments.