At the Lagoon View Estate, Ibeshe, Igbogbo- Bayeku Local Council Development Area (LCDA), Ikorodu, Lagos State, residents were in tears last weekend as they took our correspondent on an assessment of ruins of the demolition of their houses over what they ascribed to a land tussle.
The residents said they were dazed when they arrived from their places of work on February 20, 2018 to discover their properties had been pulled down by bulldozers. They blamed the demolition on one Alhaji Mukaila Akinsanya, whom they alleged had been claiming ownership of the parcel of land on which the demolished structures were situated.
One of the affected residents, a civil servant with the Lagos State Water Corporation, Mr Williams Lukmon, said he moved into his apartment in 2013 but was surprised when Akinsanya turned up to claim the land belonged to him.
Lukmon said the claimant reported to the Lagos State Ministry of Physical Planning, which summoned all the affected property owners to its office at the Government Secretariat at Alausa, Ikeja.
Another surprise awaited the civil servant at the Secretariat as the officials there, he narrated, directed him and the other affected residents to either pack out their belongings out of their houses or pay Akinsanya the sum of N5 million.
The development assumed a more frightening dimension for the residents on February 7, 2018 when the Ministry of Physical Planning marked their buildings for demolition with a red mark, purportedly for erosion and drainage reasons.
“The next day, we went to Alausa and met the same man of the Physical Planning ministry, but he said he didn’t want to listen to us. He also said we didn’t have permits, but we insisted that we had our documents,” Lukmon told Eko Trust.
The residents could, however, not produce any document or approved building plans when demanded by our reporter, saying the documents were destroyed during the demolition exercise.
But Lukmon insisted he and others bought their pieces of land from the Asajo family. He disclosed that the family’s representatives had made efforts to settle the matter but to no avail.
Another resident, Kalejaiye Abdulyekin, a welder, who built a one-room apartment, lamented that his children have been squatting in his neighbour’s house, while he sleeps in an uncompleted building.
“This place is a new site. On February 20, I just saw a bulldozer with armed policemen. I had lived here for five years, and I really toiled hard to build this house but my investment has gone down the drain,” Abdulyekin cried.
He appealed to Governor Akinwunmi Ambode to come to their aid, saying, “I am also an APC member and we all voted for Ambode, but we cannot bear this pain.”
Another affected resident, Mrs Morufat Adedayo, said she and her children have been living under a canopy since the demolition, exposed to danger.
“We packed in here in 2015 and had lived in peace until last year when officials of the Physical Planning ministry brought a letter and marked our buildings for demolition. One of the officials was honest enough to confide in us that a man came to complain that we encroached his land. The Lagos State government, especially Gov Ambode, should save us.”
Efforts to get the comments of the Ministry of Physical Planning were unsuccessful till yesterday. Our correspondent reached out to its Commissioner, Mr Rotimi Ogunleye, but he did not reply the text message sent to him till the time of filing this report.
But a member of the Asajo family, Kabiru Jimoh, who gave an insight into the land tussle, explained that the part of the land where the buildings were demolished was a boundary between his family’s property and another family’s, but claimed the controversial area belonged to the Asajo family, saying there was a survey to prove such ownership.
Jimoh said, “When the man began to disturb these people, we challenged him that if he was the true owner of the land, why couldn’t he sue the family that sold the land to them, or even to him, or the owners of the buildings themselves? But nobody was sued to that effect. There was no court order and we were never served any notice from the court.
“What he did was to go through the Ministry of Planning. I understand the residents were served quit notice for almost four times before the demolition was carried out. But our concern really was that why must it be an individual that would petition the Town Planning?”
He added that the Asajo family, armed with relevant documents, had instructed their lawyer to file a suit to seek compensation and damages for the residents whose properties were pulled down.
Jimoh said, “We have all the evidence that the land belongs to our family. We have a survey and various court documents we got on recent tussles with other families in the area. I remember that in 1996, we won a court case against the Ifakodo family and the land was ceded to us. It was after this case that we shared a boundary with the family that sold the land to Alhaji Akinsanya.
“It is unfortunate that these people were cheated. Some of them had barely completed their buildings. There was a man who only built a self-contained one-bedroom apartment because he could not afford erecting a bigger structure, yet they pulled down it down in a day.”
Alhaji Mukaila Akinsanya, who was accused of wrongfully demolishing the buildings, would not respond to our correspondent’s enquiries. When our correspondent initially called him on his mobile line, which the Truecaller identified as Alhaji Mukaila Akinsanya, he picked the call. However, on hearing the reason for the call, he immediately cut it. A text message, thereafter, was sent to him but he didn’t reply.
After 48 hours, our reporter again called him and he picked the call. When he was asked if he saw the earlier message sent to him on the land controversy, he replied no and cut the call. He didn’t pick further calls to his line.