…promise total demolition March, 1
…demand N900,000 per plot
*Allotees call for Saraki, Gov Ahmed, Speaker’s intervention
*We acted on court’s order, says counsel
By Ahmed Ajikobi
For almost a decade, residents of old Kara market, Kulende area, Ilorin South Local Government Area of Kwara State lived peacefully without any public disturbance until last Thursday when land grabbers popularly known as ‘Omo Onile’ invaded the community with 50 armed policemen and hoodlums wielding broken bottles, machete, club and other dangerous weapons to destroy buildings.
The land grabbers led by one Sulaiman Amasa Jaiyeola also reportedly deployed Hausa labourers who destroyed homes, shops and fences in the area even as they chased out residents of the community, keeping some of those structures under lock and key, last Thursday.
When National Pilot visited the area, some residents were noticed to have vacated their homes for the fear of further attack with about 70 allotees affected by the development.
Also, affected by the destruction were some shops and residential buildings still under construction.
Speaking to one of the victims who doubles as the Chairman of Old Cattle Market Sango, Alhaji Ibrahim Abdulganiyu Kadara said the land was sold to the occupants by Ilorin South Local Government in conjunction with the Kwara State Bureau of Lands sometimes in 2008.
According to him, the expanse of land was initially used as Kara market where cattle were being sold until 2008 when Ilorin South LG decided to put it up for sale through advertisement on radio and newspaper.
Kadara said majority of the landlords in the community responded to the advertisement by purchasing forms with sum of N5,000 while a plot of land and other administrative charges were paid for to the tune of N650,000.
“We paid money to Ilorin South Local Government and it was receipted and the Right of Occupancy issued was issued to us by the Bureau of Lands alongside site plan.
“In the advert, they said the land will measure 100*100 which is equivalent to about two plots of land but by the time they began allocating the land in 2010, we were only given 100*50 which is just one plot each.
“Surprisingly in 2016 a notice was placed on our fences and wall and another on the signpost which read: All Allotees within this layout are mandated to report to the office of the Director General, Kwara State Bureau of Lands on Tuesday 20th September, 2016 in respect of the execution of the court judgement in suit No.KWS/33 2011 delivered on 27th May, 2016. Any allotee who fails to show up should consider his/her plot/property forfeited.
“One of the Omo Oniles, Jaiyeola sued Ilorin South LG and the Bureau of Lands for selling a land that belongs to his family to the allotee, demanding compensation from the government.
“Meanwhile, Jaiyeola, Ilorin South LG, the Bureau of Lands and the lawyer to the complainant had settled out of court requesting each allotee to pay another N650 per square meter which translated to almost N400,000 per plot,” he divulged.
Speaking further, the Chairman said the occupants refused to comply with the latest directive since they had earlier complied with all financial and other terms of acquiring the land as required by the Ilorin South LG and Bureau of Lands.
“We refused to make any further payment to Ilorin South or the Jaiyeola family having fulfilled all the terms expected of us. We made it clear that we bought those portions of land from Ilorin South because of our trust in government.
“We told the three parties not to involve us in the issue and that they should settle the matter among themselves instead of victimising the masses.”
As part of efforts to resolve the issue, Kadara said letters were written to the Kwara State Commissioner of Police, Director of State Security (DSS), the Director General of Bureau of Lands, the Chief of Staff to the Kwara State Governor and the Kwara State House of Assembly among other authorities to seek justice and save the community from intimidation from the land grabbers.
Additionally, Kadara said several meetings were held with the leadership of Bureau of Lands, Ilorin South officials and the claimant lawyer without any fruitful result.
According to him, it was revealed by the Secretary of Ilorin South during a peace talk in 2016 that the council had paid Bureau of Lands some amount of money to compensate the landowners in the community.
“In April 2017, we received a letter alongside the Bureau of Lands and Ilorin South Local Government from public complaint committee headed by Hon. Adebayo Babatunde Mohammed of the Kwara State House of Assembly, for dialogue.
“We sincerely appreciate the efforts of the committee for their sincerity and upright because they faulted both the local government and Bureau of Lands for our plight and for victimising the masses. They asked the duo to present details of the money collected in respect to the land sold to us.
“Surprisingly, the DG of Bureau of Land said he could only trace the sum of N4million on the available record. We the allotees presented the teller with account number of Balogun Fulani Micro Finance bank and FCMB to the committee for verification.
“The committee chairman however advised the local government and the Bureau of Lands to resolve the issue early rather than face the whole members of the House.”
He added that the state Assembly invited all the allotees on February 19 stating that they did not abandon them rather the lawmakers said they have been holding meetings with the present and past leadership of the Bureau of Lands and local government.
“The delay in proclamation from the lawmaker and the state government has created a sort of tension in the community.
“Surprisingly, last Thursday, 50 policemen with some hoodlums armed with bottles, knives and other dangerous weapons stormed the community claiming they were acting based on court judgment delivered sometimes in 2016 on the land.
“They ordered everybody to vacate their houses and that the portions of land belong to Jaiyeola and his family.
“They invited Hausa labourers to pull down fences of homes and to lock such with padlocks and chain. They added that we should all vacate the community within seven days. According to them they will storm the area on March 1, for total demolition of the structures. They are also demanding the payment of N2,000 per square metre, an equivalent of N900,000 per plot,” Kadara lamented.
Meanwhile, the allotees have called for the intervention of the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed and the Speaker of state House of Assembly, Dr Ali Ahmad.
Speaking further on the plight of the landlords, Alhaji Salaudeen Baba Saheed, said, “The Omo Onile threatened to come back and we don’t want any trouble. We are law abiding citizens of Nigeria,” he divulged.
When contacted, the complainant, Jaiyeola Amasa said, “the local government sold my land and I took them to court which I won. No hoodlum invaded the area, it was court officials and security agents. Nobody was threatened as alleged by them,” he submitted.
However, the complainant’s counsel, Akin Akintoye I, said,” We act according to the court order, we went there with court officials and policemen, not hoodlums. The government recognised the Alangua of Kulende family as the customary owner of the land in 2016.”
Akintoye added that whatever the allotees may have paid to the local government and the Bureau of Lands does not count,
“What we know is that we are the customary owners of that land and we are recovering back our land. If they don’t want us to have the land back, they should pay N650 per square metre as at May 2016 when the judgement was delivered and it was an agreement between local government and the Bureau of Lands to be paid within 50 days. If they want their land back, they must follow our terms.”
When contacted, the state Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Ajayi Okasanmi, said he is not aware of the development, promising to get back to the reporter as soon as he gets an update.