Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Lagos Land Grabbers Demolish Buildings Of Septuagenarian


A 70-year-old landlord, Olu Bakare, says he is in distress after the two houses he built on a plot of land were demolished by suspected land grabbers.

The 16-room buildings were located on Ishola Street, Makoka, Yaba, Lagos State. Bakare said he was disappointed that appeals to the Lagos State Government since July 2016, to prevail on the hoodlums had yet to yield any fruit, adding that the land had been sold to some people.

He told Punch Metro that he had written petitions to the Lagos State Special Task Force on Land
Grabbers and the state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Adeniji Kazeem, demanding justice. He stated that the buyers had started building on the land, calling on the state Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, to come to his rescue.

Our correspondent learnt that some hoodlums, led by one Abule, had stormed Bakare’s property sometime in May 2016, demolishing the two buildings – one of which had earlier been gutted by fire.

Bakare said, “I bought the land for my father, Lasisi Bakare, in 1985 and I have every valid document to that effect. Two buildings comprising 16 rooms were built on the land. I took possession of the property and exercised the right of ownership before my father died in July 1992.

“In May 2016, before I could repair the burnt building, Abule and his cohorts demolished the buildings and sold the land to some persons. My lawyer wrote to the National Human Rights Commission and I sent a petition to the Lagos State Task Force on Land Grabbers.

“Action on the petition was delayed. I later got the Director of Citizens Rights in the Ministry of Justice, one Mrs. Ibirogba, to intervene. Through her intervention, the Chairman of the task force, Mr. Bakare Akinjide, directed me to a police inspector called Ojugbele.”

The landlord explained that Ojugbele arrested some relatives of Abule on October 8, 2016, adding that they were released after they allegedly promised to bring Abule or the persons who bought the land in a week’s time before the secretary of the agency.

“After one week, they came and told the secretary that they could not find Abule. They also did not come with the persons whom they claimed he sold the land to. Thereafter, Inspector Ojugbele invited me to four different meetings with Abule’s family in his office. The family promised to give me another land in Makoko, which I rejected.

“They asked for what to pay in damages for the demolition and I requested N30m. They said they would go and hold a meeting and promised to get back to me. When I did not hear from them, I went back to the secretary and told her that there was no positive development. She assured me that Ojugbele would see the matter through,” he added.

The victim said he went to the chambers of a human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, in December 2016, to seek legal assistance on the matter, adding that Falana assigned a lawyer to look into it.

He said the lawyer wrote a letter, a copy of which was obtained by Punch Metro, to the task force chairman on December 2, 2016 and its receipt was acknowledged by the agency on December 6, 2016.

The petition demanded the arrest and prosecution of Abule and his accomplices.

Bakare said when the task force failed to reply to the letter, a reminder was sent by another lawyer from Falana’s chambers.

The reminder read in part, “As a follow-up to our earlier letter, dated December 2, 2016, to the chairman of the Lagos State Task Force on Land Grabbers, we write this letter to reiterate our story as well as our demands in the said letter.

“This follow-up became necessary as there was no reply to our earlier letter and no action was taken on same. In the light of the foregoing, we urge you to use your good offices to look into the issues raised herein as well as in our earlier letter, with a view to restoring our client to his land.”

Bakare said Falana directed him to the chairman on February 27, 2017, adding that Akinjide called Inspector Ojugbele in his presence to bring the arrested suspects and the case file to his (Akinjide’s) office.

“The chairman only told me to come back. Up till now, nothing has been done about the matter. That is why I am imploring the governor and Nigerians to come to my aid,” he said.

The chairman, Akinjide, who spoke with our correspondent on the telephone, said Bakare needed to visit the agency to follow up on the petitions.

He said, “If he wants to follow up on the petitions, he should come to our office. I won’t call him except there is a development that needs verification. He needs to come to the office; I can’t attend to everybody. I have workers that will attend to him.”

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