Lagos Community Seeks Justice Over House Demolition

 Folake Sokoya
Residents of Agodongbon village, a community near Lucky Fiber Industries in the Ikorodu area of Lagos, have cried out for help after some individuals claiming to be Lagos State officials demolished their homes.
According to the Baale of the community, Otunba Oluwole Sanni, the same set of people that knocked down their houses on July 6 had stormed the community in 2017 and 2019.
“Without any prior notice or form of agreement to compensate the community” the men destroyed properties while claiming Lagos State government has acquired the land, said the Baale.
The Baale said further that: “This people came in 2017 and without any form of notification or gazette destroyed over a hundred houses. Residents in the community tried to stop them but they came with a group of cult boys and touts who macheted anybody that tried to stop them.
“Not long after the demolition, a man who identified himself as Peter started coming into the community to map out the lands on which properties were destroyed and started allocating same to individuals who are not known in the community. When he was accosted, he said he was directed by Mr. Hassan W.O.
“The said Hassan is the man that has been leading touts and his gang who claim they are from the government to destroy properties. He is the same man selling the land acquired illegally, plot by plot.
The Baale said the family had to invite their lawyer who wrote to the Lagos State government and the ministry of lands in 2019.
“The Roga Chieftancy Family owns the land. The lawyer was informed, and he wrote to the Lagos State government, and they responded that the matter will be investigated. Even the ministry of Justice, Directorate of Civil Litigation responded but no action was taken so we challenged them in court.
“Since then, we have been on the matter, and we even had to charged Lagos State and the ministries involved to court. We were even in court on July 5 and the defendants’ lawyer didn’t turn up. The judge adjourned till September.
“Shockingly, the same set of people stormed Agodongbon the next day, July 6, 2022. They came in their hundreds with prisoners in uniforms, taskforce vehicles and some men believed to be cultist because they wore masks, tied red cloth to their wrists and had all sorts of dangerous weapons with them.
“They drove residents and people that opened shops away. I was about to go Challenge them when one of them brought out a gun that it’s the Baale he wanted to gun down. So I joined my subjects and ran for cover,” the distraught Baale narrates.
Otunba Sanni stated further that, his house was demolished in 2017 but he has since rebuilt it to shelter his family.
One of the residents, a woman who was very bitter about the development, said government cannot just enter into a community of people that voted them in and render them homeless in the name of acquisition without any form of compensation or re-allocation of lands.
According to the woman who didn’t want her name in print, “How possible is it for government as claimed by these perpetrators to just enter a village and demolish houses here? How is this place government land? Do they have any demolishing order to demolish houses here? They said Sanwo-Olu sent them. I don’t know how Sanwo-Olu will just ask them to come and demolish buildings here.
“They come here to demolish houses without any notification anytime they like and after they demolish houses here, they start selling the lands to individuals. We don’t understand how government would acquire lands and start selling them to individuals plot by plot. I now sleep in an uncompleted shop with my children and my husband is presently in hospital due to this matter.”
A land buyer, Godwin Okolie, lamented the demolitions of his properties without prior warning.
“I am an Igbo man. I bought 13 plots of land in this community and I have the Agodongbon Roga Chieftancy family receipts. I had already developed eight plots of land and to my greatest surprise, I was called on July 6 to quickly come to my site but before I got here, all my properties had been demolished.
“I thought I was in a trance when I saw the projects that I borrowed money from the bank to embark on, demolished just like that. I don’t know where to start from. I don’t believe that governor Sanwo-Olu gave this kind of order. He should please come to our rescue,” Godwin pleaded.
Comrade Ayodele Akinwumi, an estate consultant who has been on the field in the Agodongbon village for about 13 years said “illegal” seizure and destruction of landed properties by government is “undemocratic.”
“If it’s true that the people that came to destroy properties in this community represented the government then, I have never seen this level of undemocratic behaviour by any government before now. How can some people who claim they are government representatives come to a developed village like this without any prior notice to destroy millions of naira worth of landed properties?
“We are in a democracy. If government wants to acquire lands, they ought to meet with the family who owns the land to dialogue. I don’t believe that government will send officials without prior notification, to go and destroy a developing community. This barbaric act has rendered many families homeless in this rainy season.
“We should have humanitarian feelings in whatever we do because we will all leave this earth one day. If you go inside there, houses that have been completed are demolished. One of the victims is hospitalized because of shock after the building he just completed and moved into was demolished,” Akinwunmi lamented.
Another landowner, Pastor Agboola Israel, said after buying land in Agodongbon, his family and friends, seeing how “peaceful the community was,” engaged him as a middleman to buy lands for them.
Hear Israel: “I got a call from a neighbour, just a day after we went to court, that the same hoodlums that we Instituted legal suit against have come to demolish houses again. By the time I got here, few houses belonging to my friends had been demolished and one of the buildings cost nothing less than N30million.
“If it was government that sent them, there would have been a notice and that is why we are in court in the first place. So I am surprised that they can still come here to commit this havoc even when the matter is in Hon. Justice A.F. Pokanu’s court.
“I learnt the caterpillar almost crushed wailing residents with the building. We demand Justice, we demand that Hassan and his cohorts be brought to book. We demand explanation on why government will demolish our houses without prior notice. It is land grabbers that I know do this kind of thing and this Roga family, since we started buying land from them, doesn’t have such issues on their land. Why will it be government that will render the people that voted them in homeless by using prisoners, cultists and police taskforce to intimidate us?”
Agodongbon Roga Family Lawyer, Otunba Ebiwonjumi Obatayo Esq, when contacted by our correspondent in his Ikorodu office, said he was shocked that Lagos State officials could begin to demolish houses with impunity when the matter was before the court.
“I wrote to the Governor, to the Attorney General of Lagos State, to the Commissioner for Lands and to the Land Allocation Committee asking why buildings and structures were demolished without any form of notice or gazette. I even went to the ministry myself and the woman I met there, after searching all the files, said there is no gazette or any form of document indicating that the state government ordered the demolition of Agodongbon village.
“After demolishing some buildings in 2017 and 2019, the so-called officials, were seen selling and allocating the same land to individuals and that is why my clients decided to sue them,” said Obatayo.
According to the lawyer, the defendants’ lawyer came to court without any form of documentation to defend his clients and had to request for adjournment even as he knew that there is no legal document to back up his clients’ “illegal acts.”
“I am happy that the community has cried out for justice, and I believe that justice will eventually be served accordingly,” Obatayo added.

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Post Author: Tayo Olanipekun