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Panic as suspected landgrabbers invade Lagos community

There was apprehension on Friday, February 16, after suspected landgrabbers invaded Ajasa-Command, a suburb in the Alimosho Local Government Area of Lagos State.

PUNCH metro learnt that the landgrabbers numbering about 500 were mobilised from Sango Ota, Ogun State, while claiming they were on a mission to execute a judgment over an expanse of land in the community.

Our correspondent learnt they were seen driving into the community in a convoy of over 10 vehicles, accompanied by an escort of close to 20 soldiers sighted in an army-coloured pick-up van with registration number NA 709BOF.

Also in the convoy was a team of policemen numbering about 40 and occupying yellow-coloured Volkswagen commercial buses.

A resident in the area told PUNCH Metro that they were harassing residents of the community and shutting people’s gates.

The resident who craved anonymity due to the nature of the incident said, “The landgrabbers arrived in the community with hoodlums bearing dangerous weapons such as charms, daggers, and guns. Shortly after their arrival, they started to vandalise people’s property and extort residents in the area. They also locked people’s gates, preventing them from going out and coming in.  Those who have their cars were affected too.”

It was gathered that the landgrabbers acted on the directives of one Kehinde Ologunebi family which had engaged the Ajasa family in a legal land tussle that has lasted more than 50 years.

“The legal tussle has been on for over 50 years. The case which had gone through the Lagos High Court and the Court of Appeal is presently before the Supreme Court which has yet to deliver judgment on the matter.

“Residents of the area are majorly people who derived their title from the Oba of Ajasa and had been engaging the Ologunebi family in talks as they are the affected parties. It was therefore a surprise for the residents when the landgrabbers invaded the community on Friday,” the source further explained.

Another resident who identified himself simply as Idowu said some of the landgrabbers could still be found in the area as they went about taking over people’s properties.

He said, “Some of them are still around, breaking people’s fences. They also break into vacant lands selling them to prospective buyers. They vowed to remain in the community until they take full possession of the land in dispute. Residents are presently in fear. Some are already making alternative arrangements to relocate pending the time the landgrabbers will leave the community.”

When our correspondent contacted Mutairu Owoeye, the man accused of leading the invasion, he confirmed he was present during the incident but denied harassing residents in the community other than to enforce a judgment to take over the disputed area.

He said, “We have the warrant of possession and we followed the law. Nobody was harassed. That was why the police were many that day. We did not want any molestation because we are all Nigerians. The court gave us the authority to take over the land. Anybody that has not built or developed his house, the house belongs to us. And for those who have built their houses, we locked them and asked the owners to go and visit our lawyer. It is the lawyer who will decide whether it should be opened or not.”

The state Police Public Relations Officer, Benjamin Hundeyin, said he was not aware of the incident.

“I am not aware of the incident. If it is a court judgement, it is usually enforced by court bailiffs. But if there is an evidence of harassment, that will be looked into.”

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