Some Ogun State residents numbering close to 50, on Friday, protested the recent demolition of their buildings inside Regal Estate at Magboro by the Ogun State Government.
Bearing different placards with measages such as “FG, please come to our aid,” “Amosun, leave us alone and go in peace,” “All we want is justice” and so on, the protesters urged the Federal Government and well-meaning Nigerians to look into what they term illegal demolition of buildings including churches and shops.
Speaking to journalists at the site in Magboro just off the Lagos Ibadan Expressway, one of the protesters described it as naked display of executive recklessness.
“It is a shame that a governor could just wake up one day and with less than two months left in office, descend so heavily on people whose only crime could be said to stem from buying plots of land in Ogun State and getting all necessary documents from the government of the same state,” the man simply identified as Ayeni, lamented.
With the debris of the demolished buildings littering the site, Chief Nureni Farounbi, head of the family which owns the land, said the state government’s action is not only prejudicial but smacks of contempt of court.
“It is shocking because this is not an area where we have the issue of acquired land because there has been no time the topic of paying compensation to our land has come up. As you can see, there is nothing the state government has done to us, no school, no hospital, no water or electricity or even road. The electricity you see here now was as a result of money the family contributed.
“And all the people we sold land to here went to Ogun State to go and do ratification and they were given the necesary particulars to the land including C Of O. Only for me to get a call last month that government officials are here demolishing buildings.”
Speaking further, he said: “We are already in court because the only clue we can talk about has to do with the fact that governnent to erect a signpost along the road long ago and we took them to court. Maybe that is why they came to demolish these buildings.”
Asked what their demands are as things stand, Farounbi added: “We rushed back to court and we have a hearing fixed for April 18. They started demolishing on Friday, March 22 and about 15 houses including a church and shops have been brought down because the place was sold to people who developed it into an estate.”
Biyi Aiyeola, an undergraduate who said his father’s house was demolished without as much as adequate notice, referred to the action as “unbridled use of force demonstrating nothing but bitter politics”.
Ayodele Agbeleshe, one of the surveyors of the land, said there was no basis for demolishing any building in the area, labelling the exercise as unjustifiable.
The only house and church left behind by Pastor Shitu Mudashiru for his widow, Mrs. Bukola Shitu, was also demolished in the exercise.
According to the distraught widow, they had been living in the community for over ten years without anybody harassing them until March 22 when it all began barely a month after her husband died.
She they were holding a service in the church when officials of the Ogun State Government from Mitros came and said we were on an illegal land.
“When the officials of the state government came, it was during service, the leader of the team threatened to demolish the building on us if we didn’t come out on time. We hurriedly rounded off the prayer session.
“Initially, before the demolishing was carried out, some officials of the Urban and Regional Planning from Warewa Area had come to serve us notice of demolition. We were not afraid because we had all necessary documents concerning the land.
“Before the demolition exercise commenced, I approached one of the Mitros officials to know why they wanted to destroy our church and house and he said our building and church are on government-acquired land.
“I told the government officials that we had all necessary documents for the property we bought and also charted the land before we paid. It was after we had charted it from the Ministry of Lands and we are satisfied that we paid the person we bought it from.
“ As a widow, my children and I slept inside the cold for a week before we could get money to rent a single room apartment where are sleeping now. I don’t know where to start from; we are being chased out unjustly.”
Alhaji Shakiru Adeleye, whose house was also affected, said the demolition exercise was carried out in bad faith. Adeleye said they had been living in the community even before the present government assumed office without any problem whatsoever.
He said: “When I saw them demolishing the houses, I asked them why they had to destroy our house, the only answer they could give us was that we built our houses on illegal land.
“Unfortunately, one pastor Moses Ogunbode who was in his church, His Word Apostolic Ministry, was attacked when they were about to demolish the church forcefully, we are under siege of soldiers and police in the community, all we want is transparency and justice because we acquired the land legally.”
The government officials also demolished a building owned by Mr. Ahmed Muhili, who said he was using it as a factory and just invested huge money into the factory just months ago after buying the factory from a foreigner last year.
“When I wanted to buy it, I went to the Ministry of Lands to also chart it and it was there I discovered it was okay and I paid the owner.
“I was surprised when I received a call that some government officials from Mitros were demolishing house here. Before I could get here, they had brought my entire factory to the ground.
“We want peace, we had acquired our land before the present government assumed office, also paid all necessary money required by the state government”.