Fifteen communities including Ipetoro in the suburb of Lagos and Ogun States have been at the mercy of land grabbers, forcing the former to petition Governor Amosun of Ogun State for intervention, reports Amos Esele
For the people of Ipetoro village, situated near Sagamu- Ikorodu road, life has become brutish and may turn our short if the Ogun State government lives them at the mercy of their enemies. For over a year now they have been terrorized and victimized by a gang of terrorists and land grabbers masquerading as land speculators and dealers. Specifically, Ipetoro, a farming and fishing village is about 21/2 km from Ogijo in Sagamu Local Government Area.
Narrating their life threatening experience, Mr John Adeyinka Adekoya, a professor of geology at Osun State University, Osogbo said the village is yet to know peace since the fateful day of December, 3 2014 when their Baale (village head), Chief Mojeed Olanipekun was arrested by some policemen and taken to Abuja after three days of detention in Sagamu in Ogun State. His alleged offence, according to Adeyinka, quoting the police, was that he inflicted wounds to the head of one Wasiu Olukade, according to a petition.
He said: “As soon as the Baale was arrested and taken away from Ipetoro village on the 3rd December 2014, a swarm of land grabbers led by a notorious man called Mr. Kamoru Lamina (a.k.a Sir K) descended on Ipetoro village near Ogijo in Ogun State and took over the place in a military commando fashion. The attack was undertaken by about 70-80 people armed with guns, machetes, short axes, sticks and charms and they entered the village riding on about 40 motor bikes (Okada).
“In their operation the land grabbers shot sporadically into the air, beat the people mercilessly, carried out wanton destruction of property in general and ordered the people to leave the village or get killed. While some of them were breaking doors and windows of the houses and vandalizing other property including vehicles in the village, others were engaged in looting everywhere. Valuables stolen by the group included money, telephones, electronic instruments, generators, etc. After driving away the Ipetoro indigenes from the village, these marauders plundered the village and the farms massively.” By December 10 when the village head was released by the police, the plunderers revisited, unleashed terror and prevented those visiting from gaining entrance into the village. The village has not known peace since then as their lives now swing between the over hanging threat from the land grabbers and the continued expectation of permanent resolution from the state authorities and the police.
Investigations show that apart from Ipetoro village, other neighbouring fifteen villages such as Adeekun Lambo Lasunwon, Ewumi, Igbosoro Oke Ibu, Igbosoro Oliride, Oke Arobi Tile –Tile, Oke Arobi Obalire, Salagberu and Teele Owujebe. Others include Asese, Igbosoro Orefesun, Ilu Oloye, Iraye, Oke Agbo, Molupa and Pakuro, located in both Ogun and Lagos States have suffered similar fate in the hands of the land grabbers. Many too have one time or the other petitioned the Inspector General of Police to no avail.
Explaining how the fake land speculators have managed to sustain their brigandage without adequate police intervention, Adeyinka said the group has been successful so far through clever trickery. He said: “Two main reasons probably account for the inability of the police to stop him. First, is the well-contrived trick employed by the land grabbers to cover up their nefarious activities with the issue of land dispute, which the police are not supposed to get involved in. To make the case appear as a land dispute Sir K would recruit some people, mostly jobless youths, from his target community or village and suborn them with money to join his group of “ajagungbale” i.e. land grabbers.
“After the land grabbers have successfully taken over any occupied land violently, the persons recruited from that community into the land grabbers’ gang would fake as land owners and claim to have sold their portion of a family land to Sir K. When the community cries out, then Sir K and his land grabbers’ gang would present the matter to the police and the public at large as a land dispute case between the community and other land owners (i.e. who are actually fake land owners that are members of the land grabbers gang recruited from the community). This is clearly an ingenious fraudulent strategy to cover up the crimes committed by Sir K and his gang and to seize people’s land by terrorism.”
Nonetheless, Adeyinka is thankful to the Nigerian Police, Ogun State Command for intervening at a point to ensure the displaced people of Ipetoro returned to their village. But the threat still remains as the ravaging group keep sending messages that they would soon strike, thereby putting the people on edge and distracting them from settling down to any meaningful endeavor.
Hence on August 17, 2015, Adeyinka decided to petition Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State, on behalf of his people, asking for his support to bring the matter to a decisive conclusion and protect the lives and property of his people so that they can sleep with their two eyes closed. As at press time the government is yet to intervene, even as a semblance of calm has returned to the village. But it is an uneasy calm and the people are still waiting on the first citizen of the gateway state to create the condition of permanent peace in their land through his intervention.