Dozens of community leaders, landlords, and residents of the Agidingbi area of Lagos Thursday staged a peaceful protest to the Lagos State House of Assembly against a court ruling giving them seven days to vacate their properties.
The protesters, which included youth, women, and elderly people, chanted songs in Yoruba as they marched towards the Assembly complex.
Their placards bore inscriptions such as ‘There is no ancestral connection between Akinole-Oshiun and Agidingbi,’ ‘LASG save our community,’ ‘Red card to land grabbers,’ ‘O to ge fun Awon omo onile (Enough is enough for land grabbers), among others.
The protesters had woken up last week to see a court notice on their buildings, dated April 26, giving them seven days to evacuate the premises. The notice indicated that the first judgment, which affirmed the ownership of the land to the Akinole-Oshiun family, was first delivered in 1983.
According to the notice, a Supreme Court ruling had also awarded ownership of the 398 acres of land and about 2,000 buildings to the Akinole-Oshiun family.
The possession order covered a large part of Lateef Jakande Road (housing Coca-Cola, Daily Times newspaper and Cadbury Plc), Acme Road (where Daily Trust and Telegraph newspapers, as well as the APC secretariat, are located), Fagba Close among others.
Dorcas Faworaja, the 83-year-old Iyalode (woman leader) of Agidingbi, said she never heard of the Akinole-Oshiun family until 2003, adding that they do not have a family house in the community.
“For people crying for justice, I was told they brought back-up policemen arresting people,” said Mrs Faworaja, who, aided by her walking stick, joined the protesters.
“We can just wake up and see bulldozers demolishing houses and you know what that means. At 83, I should be resting but because of the trouble they have caused, I am here. Our grandparents never told us about Akinole, they only surfaced in 2003 to claim they are the owner of the land, how possible is that?”
Ganiyu Aruna, the Baale (head) of the community, said the Akinole-Oshiun family had been in a 42-year tussle over the land with the Lagos State government.
“We haven’t heard anything about Akinole, my grandparents were born there and nothing like that was ever mentioned. We weren’t invited for any court process at all, we are not aware of the case,” he said.
“We don’t want any problem in our community and we are law-abiding citizens, we pay our taxes and the land use charge.”
Wasiu Seidu, a legislator in the Ojodu local council, begged the state government to save the community from the alleged land grabbers.
“They just brought a (court) judgment and placed on the wall,” he said.
“Agidingbi’s name was not mentioned in the judgment and it states that they have just won a case against Lagos government and they are seizing the land by court order and everyone is expected to move out in seven days.
“We are pleading with Lagos State government to save us against land grabbers.”
Ajao Mutair, the director of public affairs in the office of civic engagement, appealed to the protesters to maintain law and order in the community and promised that prompt action would be taken by the state government.
“There is property protection law, there is land grabbers committee in place by the government to ensure that there is peace in the acquisition of property in Lagos State,” Mr Mutair said.
“When this issue arises now, we will collect your papers and before tomorrow we will get back to you.”
The court order issued to the residents is reproduced below:
“This is to inform the general public and in particular, all illegal occupants of that piece of land measuring 398 acres, situated, lying and being at Agidingbi, Ikeja, Lagos State that the said land has been variously confirmed up to the Supreme Court of Nigeria as legally belonging to the Akinole-Oshiun Family, a land area which is more delineated in the Judgement Survey Plan No. CK/LS/272 dated 22/12/17 drawn by Abolade Coker, Licenced Surveyor; that the family has by the above court judgments taken possession of its legitimate land immediately.
“The title of the said parcel of land has been variously re-affirmed in favour of the Akinole-Oshiun Family in the following cases namely:
1. “By the judgments of High Court of Lagos State in Suit No ID/216/77L delivered by Hon. Justice B.O. Martins on 19th August 1983 and re-affirmed on 26th March 1993; 36 years and 26 years ago respectively.
2. “Appeals/Applications at the Court of Appeal to set aside the above-referenced judgments by the Attorney- General of Lagos State in Appeal No. CA/L/517/99, were struck out on 23rd September, 2003; 4th July 2005 and 14th April 2008 respectively, and in Appeal No. CA/L/649M/2006, another Application was struck out on the 26th of April 2007. “
3. “Further Appeals to the Supreme Court in Suit No. SC/173/2009 dated 24th May 2010, was dismissed thereby reaffirming the judgments of the High Court and the Court of Appeal respectively. “
4. “That pursuant to the various Certificates and Warrants of Execution for Possession issued by Particular Lagos State High Courts to the Akinole-Oshiun Family, dated 28th July, 2000 and 3rd October 2006, the latest being that which was issued on 3rd November 2016 after the favourable judgment secured by our family in Suit No. ID/923M/99, the family was again frustrated through a curious appeal filed by a non-party to the cases, which sought to relitigate the case already decided by Supreme Court in our favour since 24th May 2010. The Court of Appeal sitting in Lagos on 29th March, 2019 has finally dismissed the Appeal No. CA/L/776/14.
“Therefore, by the above, Lagos State High Court and Court of Appeal favourable judgments, the Akinole-Oshiun Family takes effective possession of our land, the 398 acres of land at Agidingbi, Ikeja, Lagos State”.