The people of Isashi-Ibeshe community are in disagreement with some dredging companies over mining rights in their shoreline
Except adequate caution is taken, hostility that is presently taking place in Isashi-Ibeshe in Ikorodu area of Lagos State may escalate. The crisis which is snowballing into a serious conflict over a leased mining title at Isashi-Ibeshe, is fast giving way to restiveness in the once serene and beautiful community, which now demands the Federal Government’s urgent intervention.
At the centre of the fast ranging dispute is Glossands Limited, a major dredging company which the indigenes accused of having operated in the community for over two decades without any meaningful benefit to the people or their environment, and a recent entrant, Eva & Kings. The others include Badewa and Bima dredging firms.
Protesting on Monday at the community village square, some Ibeshe youths, led by their chiefs, urged Glossands Limited to move its dredging equipment from the other dredgers’ waterfront. The Otun Asashi of Isashi Community, Rafiu Aregbesola, told newsmen that Glossands started courting trouble when it ran its dredger across Eva & Kings’ waterfront and has snubbed all interventions to move its equipment.
Speaking on the dispute, Aregbesola said that after the Ibeshe traditional authority made several efforts to persuade Glossands to shift ground and allow the other legal firms some space to operate alongside, the Olubeshe-in-Council, exercising the community’s right under Section 100 of the Federal Mining Law, demanded that Glossands moved it sequipment as a matter of urgency. In their letter of September 28, 2015 to Glossands, entitled, “Urgent Demand For Compliance,
” which was signed by over seven Ibeshe chiefs and copied the Director of Mines, Inspectorate Department, MMSD; Mines Officer, Mines Inspectorate Department, Lagos; MD, Nigerian Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA); Assistant Inspector General of Police, Zone 2, Lagos, and the Inspector General of Police, among others, the community sought understanding and cooperation among the dredgers.
“As host community of the mineral title in Isashi-Ibeshe, Ikorodu area, you would appreciate the critical role we are to play for peace and orderliness,” the letter read in part. “We feel slighted if our fatherly responsibility is snubbed by any of our guests and we would react appropriately. “Recently, our traditional ruling council, upon a complaint by Eva & Kings Nigeria Limited, delegated four of our chiefs to inspect the coastline. They confirmed to us that your company placed its dredger and other equipment on the waterfront of Eva & Kings. In our investigation, we found out that Eva & Kings has authentic approval for the coordinates in the same place you positioned your dredger (Quarry Lease No: 021189). “Since we want peace in our community, we therefore demand the immediate repositioning of your dredger to your own area so as not to disturb the operations of Eva & Kings. We do not take kindly to your disturbing other people’s operations or interfering in their activities in our community.
“If you have any issue with them, direct such to the government, which would take necessary steps. Don’t be an enforcer in our community and its environs because that can lead to a breakdown of law and order. Please, if our demand is not respected, we might be forced to stop all dredging activities.
” Nevertheless, the community leaders complained that Glossands was not impacting the community and its people positively in any way, adding that it had employed only one indigene in its over two decades of operation. In view of this, they said, they would provide equally opportunity to competitors and would not allow them to be stifled out of business.
Similarly, an Isashi youth leader, Ogundeji Abideen, accused Glossands of trying to frustrate other operators out of the community, adding that the community wants all dredging firms to co-exist peacefully. Also, a youth leader from Ibeshe community, Adeshina Jamiu, urged Glossands to move its equipment from others’ waterfront and allow peace to reign according to the wishes of the people.
Eva & Kings, by available documents, was granted QLS21189 with three cadastral units of 0.6km area in Ikorodu vie a letter signed by the Director General of Mining Cadastre Office of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, O S Nkom, upon acknowledging that it had earlier been erroneously granted to be on Victoria Island, contrary to the application.
His notification letter of September 7, 2015, with reference No MCO/ CONC/QLS/21189, stated: “I am directed to convey the Director General’s approval on your application for Quarry Lease No: 21189QLS.
“Licenses/Leases will be issued subject to full payment of the annual service fee of N60,000 only. Failure to pay this fee within 14 days from the date of receipt of this letter will lead to the withdrawal of the grant in line with the provisions of Nigerian Minerals and Mining Regulations, 2011.
” This requirement the companied complied with. Meanwhile, the Managing Director of Eva and Kings, Ukah Emmanuel Onyewuchi, alleged that the documents being paraded by Glossands over the lease title were forged and that whatever recent agreement it signed with the community was not with the appropriate authorities.
He further claimed that Glossands masterminded his elder brother’s death. However, a senior official of Glossands argued that the other dredgers were operating illegally, and that Eva & Kings had always encroached on Glossands’ licensed cadastral units without restraint.
The source, pleading anonymity, said: “We are the licensed miners for that area and have been operating in that coastline for over 20 years. Before now, we have been paying all royalties to the community. For instance, we have donated power transformers, offered scholarships and jobs to some indigenes.
” Displaying documents to prove an ongoing payment of N600,000 per month to the community as demanded, the official affirmed: “We have a Memorandum of Understanding with the indigenes till 2017. Why is the other company taking its case to the indigenes and not the government?”
The official wondered why the community met with and entered an agreement with Glossands over the weekend and affirmed the subsisting agreement, only to organise a protest against the firm on Monday. Nevertheless, the two batches of stern-looking military men at each of the operating areas, obviously brought in by the different camps, were not at Glossands’ instance but primarily to stem piracy, which has been afflicting the area, the official noted.
Noting that they remained open to a peaceful resolution of the crisis, the official said that Glossands had severally notified NIWA and other concerned ministry’s agencies of Eva & Kings’ encroachment but that the company refused to comply with government’s directive to vacate the place since the past one year.
Emphasising on the matter, the official further displayed documents proving that Glossands’ equipment and operations have only been on its legally allotted eight cadastral units, adding that “They may have been granted some licensed cadastral units in the area but definitely not where we are mining. They should go and mine their officially allotted cadastral unit, which is right inside the sea, not where we positioned our dredgers.
” Although, the Chief Miner at the NIWA Lagos office, Akonji Nathaniel, did not comment on the ranging dispute when he was contacted but simply referred inquiries on the issue to the Ministry of Mines, Abuja, which he said has been handling the matter.