Magodo residents stranded over gate closure. Photo: Deji Lambo
Hundreds of residents and business owners on Wednesday were thrown into confusion following their inability to enter or exit the Magodo Phase 2 Estate in the Shangisha area of Lagos State.
PUNCH Metro gathered that the Magodo Residents Association (MRA) had shut the estate gates after suspected land grabbers, led by some policemen and members of a family, invaded the community to claim possession of property.
During the invasion, the group used red, brown and blue inks to inscribe ‘ID/795/88 Possession Taken Today 21/12/21 by Court Order,’ on various property on the estate.
- NIMASA: Nigeria, Japan sign exchange notes on High-Speed boat to reinforce Deep Blue Project
- CJN: What my late father said about Justice Ariwoola, Shina Peller
- Landlords who rent houses to Yahoo boys may spend 15 years in jail, EFCC declares
The Legal Adviser, Magodo Residents Association, Tunji Abdulhameed, said the suspected land grabbers were about invading the estate with a bulldozer when the estate management shut the gates to prevent the action.
He said, “They came around 1pm yesterday (Tuesday); the police were up to 100 and the thugs were more than 200. They invaded the estate and the police gave them backing. I asked what they were doing here and the police said they were trying to enforce a court judgment.
“I asked for a copy of the judgment but no document was provided. What they showed was a newspaper publication which they did themselves to inform the world that they were the owner of the property.
“They had a judgment in 1993 and as far as I am concerned, the judgment was not properly captured. The judgment said the government should allocate 549 plots to them with no specification to the area, property, location of the plots of land; in fact, there was nothing to ascertain the property they were talking about.
“The resident associations had a meeting in the evening and thereafter, we just saw a bulldozer at the front of our gate. The police didn’t go and were with them; the bulldozer is still at the other gate. That was why we closed the gate.
“We don’t know whether we are going to open the gate because we don’t know their plan as the land grabbers and policemen are still around. They have a motive they want to achieve; I think the purpose is to use the bulldozer to destroy property.”
Despite the estate gates being closed, PUNCH observed as residents and businessmen flooded them in a desperate attempt to gain entry.
It report that the stranded victims lamented missing their various appointments due to the condition.
Also, the effect of the gate closure led to a backlog of traffic that affected vehicular movements around the Magodo Phase 2 area.
A landlord, Rotimi George-Taylor, whose building was marked by the invaders, described their action as illegal.
He said, “My property was marked; we asked for the judgment and the authority for their action, but they said they could not make copies for everybody. And with the policemen and thugs with them, we could not do much, but just let them write what they wanted to write.
“Personally, I know that my property has not violated anything and my building precedes even their court case. So, writing on somebody’s property without the prerequisite authority is an assault on the property of the person. I cry for the situation we find ourselves in; this is a situation of illegality, where the police act without going through the document.”
The Chairman, Board of Trustees, Magodo Residents Association, Professor Ayodele Ogunye, said residents in the estate had constantly been subjected to different forms of attacks by land grabbers, adding that the state government should intervene to restore normalcy.
He said, “I have been living here since 1992 but we have been having problems with land grabbers until this case became enlarged. It is true that the Supreme Court gave judgment in favour of a family; they were to be given 549 plots, but that judgment did not say 549 plots in Magodo.
“Hence, the Lagos State Government allocated plots of land to them in Badagry and Ibeju Lekki. So far, about 300 of them have agreed to take those plots, but these people continue to harass us. I have been to Alagbon (FCID) three times this year on this issue.
“Yesterday (Tuesday), in the morning, these people besieged us; they said they were bailiffs trying to enforce the Supreme Court judgment. They are not Lagos State Government bailiffs; if they were, they would wear their jackets. They went to hire some area boys to come in as bailiffs.
“I spoke with the senior police officer that led them and he said he got instruction from the top to follow them. We told them to show us the judgment they were enforcing, but they showed our lawyer a press release.
“They were marking houses including houses we had been living in since 1992. We gathered that the government was not informed yesterday; how could they come into a government estate without clearance from the governor? The governor said he is not aware of this siege.”
The Chairman of the estate, Bajo Osinubi, said one of the gates was opened after the state Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, intervened, adding that the DC Operations, who visited the estate during the uproar, said the Inspector-General of Police, Baba Usman, had promised to withdraw the policemen.
He said, “We opened the gate about an hour ago because we had a promise from the Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, that he is on top of the case and he actually sent in the Mayoress of Ikosi, Princess Gbada, to tell us that the policemen will be withdrawn and that this siege that has become perennial will never happen again.
“With that promise, we decided to open up so that people could go. We closed the gate because we got invaded yesterday. Up till 2am (Wednesday), we were on guard and this morning, we decided that we will not allow anybody to go in and out of the estate.
“The policemen claimed that they came from the IGP’s office. The police action gave members of the family a chance to commit falsehood as they came in to gain possession without any legal document.”
The state Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Idris Salako, could not be reached as of the time this report was filed.
Efforts to get the Force Police Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba, to react to the involvement of the policemen in the invasion proved abortive, as he did not take his calls which rang out.
However, concern Nigerian on social media has call on Mr governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu to intervene.
@AyoShonaiya said… “3days to Christmas, our Magodo 2 is under threat as Supreme Court judgement rules that some plots of land in the estate belongs to “Omo Onile”. We’re now locked in to prevent bulldozers from entering the estate. Interesting days ahead. #MagodoSiege”
@woye1… “Lagos state commissioner of police should intervene in Magodo’s case to “beg” them to allow for proper negotiation. Then, Lagos state Gov should meet the real owners for a way forward. Let them allow peaceful resolution. Magodo residents must beg now”
@GbemiDennis… “Supreme Court judgment mandated Lagos State government to give back 549 plots of Magodo Phase 2 GRA to the original owners of the area (Shangisha), before it was “fraudulently acquired over 38 year ago”. Bulldozers everywhere, what happens to house owners?”