Lagos Assembly Holds Hearing On Alleged Land-Grabbing Case

The Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights, Public Petitions and LASIEC of the Lagos State House of Assembly has said it is investigating a petition concerning alleged land grabbing in the Ojomu community of Eti-Osa which resulted in the death of a resident identified as Salami Sheriff.

Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Oladipupo Ajomale, said this at a hearing in negation of claims about the Assembly’s non-response to the petition.

“Lagos Assembly does not treat any petition received with levity,” Ajomale said.

Ajomale noted that when the petition was brought to the attention of the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Ajayi Obasa, there had not been a committee in place.

He said immediately the standing committees of the House were instituted, the petition was sent to the appropriate committee to handle the matter within a week.

Hon. Ajomale further implored the petitioners and parties involved to be truthful in the case of the hearing.

A board member from the Centre for Human and Socio-Economic Rights, CHSR, Mr. Francis Abayomi, stated that before writing the petition to the House of Assembly, the organisation got several petitions from the victims against the alleged aggressors on their lands.

Mr. Francis absolved the traditional ruler of the community who doubles as the head of the Ojomu family of any involvement in the issue, saying the latter was also a victim.

He added that the Ojomu family sold the land legitimately to the victims and that one Mr. Ahmed Tajudeen who is the head of the land grabbers has been molesting and threatening residents in the community. He added that his organisation wrote a letter to the Nigeria Police Force, Zone 2 to start an investigation into the murder of Mr. Salami.

Counsel to Stephen Omoyola representing the Ajiran Youth Movement, stated that the movement was led by the deceased, who had stood against land grabbing in the community.

He said after his death, a petition was written to the Assistant Inspector-General of Police to investigate the incident. He noted that days later, the youth movement was invited to the police station, and they were assured that an investigation would commence.

He, however, lamented that up till the moment, nothing had been heard from the Police.

The legal representative and a member of the Ojomu Royal Family, Hon. Prince Jide Akinloye, stated that the family has never been in support of the activities of the land grabbers and that the latter have taken over people’s land and have also sold to third parties.

He said the family had written to the Lagos State Land Bureau to help end what was happening to Ojomu Land. He said prior to the issue, the family barely had any case in court but since the invasion of the land grabbers, the Ojomu family has been taken to Court by over 150 people.

He also noted that Mr. Salami Sheriff was murdered at the prayer ceremony of someone who was close to him and he had since been buried according to Islamic rites adding that there were allegations that the land grabbers were responsible for his death.

Prince Akinloye noted that the land grabbers were indigenes of the Ojomu community and some of them were members of the vigilante in the community and when it was noticed that they were perpetuating evil, they were disbanded.

Hon. Saheed Bankole, Chairman, of Eti-Osa East Local Government, in his submission, stated that the murder occurred in his local government. He quoted witnesses as saying some masked unknown men alighted from a jeep, attacked the deceased and left. He said upon hearing about the incident, he placed a call to the former DPO of Ogombo Police Station.

Mr. Dayo Joshua, one of the victims, said that he purchased his land in 2012 and there was no issue on the property until 2021 when he received a call informing him that his fence was about to be demolished by unknown people.

He further said that upon getting to the site, he met a man called Marshal. He added that he proceeded to Zone II to resolve the matter. Upon investigation by the police, it was discovered that the information on his document was different from the one presented by the usurping party claiming ownership under the guise of Frajeng Group. He lamented that subsequent invitations by the police were rebuffed by the Frajeng Group.

Mr. Joshua further reported that in August 2022, the security man detailed to watch over the land on his behalf called him on the phone to report that 26 policemen from Alagbon were at the land and that they beat him up and arrested him.

The victim said he proceeded to Alagbon where he was threatened with detention but for the intervention of his legal counsel. When he could not get the desired result, he proceeded to court for redress and in the process, Zone II came up with the result of its investigation which revealed that the document from the usurping party (Frageng Group) was forged.

He recalled that within two weeks of filing the court process, the other party approached Lands Bureau and a document known as a Deed of Rectification was issued to (Frageng Group) to outsmart him as a legitimate buyer having put Lands Bureau on prior notification of litigation on the land.

He recalled that part of his frantic efforts to secure the one plot of land included the mounting of caveat emptor on the land which was wiped off. He said he also notified the public in The Guardian Newspaper and warned innocent Nigerians from buying apartments on the illegal structure built on his property among several other efforts.

Chief Mogaji Gbenga, another victim, reported that he bought his land in 2020 from Shonubi through the Ojomu of Ajiran, adding that the Governor’s Consent was presented on the property before payment was effected.

He informed that having fulfilled due diligence and upon commencement of construction, the activity was halted by one Tajudeen Ahmed. He further informed that when he confronted Mr. Tajudeen, the latter posited that he had no case with him but the monarch.

He recalled how he approached the office of the Lagos State Special Task on Land Grabbers for succor under Mr. Arole and lamented how the government passed a stop work order on the structure which was removed with impunity to the extent that the illegal structure was fully built. He said he paid the Lagos State Taskforce to help him remove the illegal structure but upon getting to the site, Tajudeen Ahmed personally blocked the entrance and prevented the police officers from gaining entrance to the premises.

The Permanent Secretary, of Lands Bureau, Mr. Kamal Olowoshago, denied knowing anything about the matter. He urged the committee to give him more time to come up with the true position of things in the form of documents. He also asked the Director, Land Services, to respond to some of the issues raised that fell within her purview.

The Director, of Land Services, Mrs. Awe Joy, expressed surprise over how a document like the Deed of Rectification could be processed and released within two weeks as alleged by Mr. Dayo Joshua considering the official inter-agency bureaucratic processes involved. She also craved more time to respond to all the issues raised.

The Coordinator, of Lagos State Special Taskforce on Land Grabbers, Rukayat Shomade, posited that some petitions from or relating to the Ojomu Royal family have been treated while some are awaiting implementation.

She pleaded with the Ojomu Family to honour their invitation adding that there are many grey areas to be cleared. She made special reference to a situation whereby two different documents on the same property with the same signature needed clarification to assist the office in its fact-finding mission.

After receiving submissions from the parties available, the committee resolved to adjourn the hearing to a later date.

Lawmakers present at the hearing include Hon.Yishawu Gbolahun, Hon. Owolabi Ajani, Hon. Princess Omolara Olumegbon, Hon. Rasheed Shabi, and Hon. Stephen Ogundipe.

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