Concern Victims Appeals To Gov. Abiodun On Demolished Community
Owners of structures demolished by the Ogun State Government at Ajegunle/Araromi community in Sagamu Local Government Area have begged Governor Dapo Abiodun to come to their aid, saying they have been rendered homeless.
The property owners and their tenants said their houses and businesses were pulled down to accommodate a Chinese company.
It would be recalled that officials of the Ogun State Bureau of Lands and Survey, secured by armed policemen, had on October 12 stormed the community with bulldozers to demolish a hotel said to be worth N500 million, including other houses and commercial buildings.
But the Government said the demolition was done to rid the place of illegal occupants living in illegal structures.
Addressing journalists in Abeokuta on Thursday, a representative of the community, Olufemi Olatunde Ogunleye, said a Chinese national had been threatening to acquire the said land with his connections with the government.
He lamented that the affected residents lost all their belongings worth millions of naira as the government agents prevented them from removing their properties before commencing the demolition exercise.
Contrary to claims that the victims were served notices to quit, the people said they only woke up to see bulldozers and armed policemen in their community demolish their houses.
According to Oguneleye, Governor Abiodun, whom they supported and voted for in March, could not have approved the demolition exercise, saying some people in government are behind it.
He demanded the reconstruction of their houses and compensation for the damages suffered.
"were reliably informed that the Chinese national, one Mr Felix, through his consultant who retired from the Ministry of Lands in Abeokuta heavily bribed the government officials to carry out this dastard act after they misled Mr Governor to sign a demolition order,” he said.
The victims said they did not regret voting for Gov Abiodun, stating that “if Dapo is meant to do third time, we will still vote for him.”
They appealed to the governor to rescue them and end the purported injustice the Bureau of Lands meted out to them.
A tenant, Tega Aguwabi, recounted amid tears how she lost belongings worth millions of naira to the demolition exercise.
According to her, she returned home on October 12 to discover that the house she rented alongside her sister had been pulled down with all their belongings.
“Everything got demolished, we don’t even have clothes to wear anymore. We are now homeless, we are outside. We sleep outside. We want our rights back. We don’t want to feel like second-class citizens in our father’s land,” she said.
Director-General hints on solace for victims
But, reacting to the allegations, the Director General of the Bureau of Lands and Survey, Segun Fowora, insisted that the government had not broken any law in demolishing the houses.
Fowora again described the victims as “illegal occupants” of government land, saying the government had given the residents repeated stop orders, which they ignored.
“They have been given repeated stop orders, they have no ownership over the land, they have no documents and no planning permission,” he said.
Debunking their legal claims, Fowora said, “there was never a court order refraining us, nothing was served on this ministry on that particular site. They were told repeatedly by this bureau that they cannot build on the land that does not belong to them, but they continued to do so with impunity, claiming they know people at the top.”
However, the DG said if there are any of the victims who are unjustly caught up in the demolition exercise, the government would be ready to ensure the right thing is done.
We have a human face. We look at every individual case one by one. If we see someone has been genuinely caught up in something not of their making, certainly we will look into that and try and do something.
“If there are instances like that, I will personally take it to His Excellency.I am sure he will approve whatever he wants for them in lieu of whatever it is. Like I said, there are innocent parties in all of this, and those innocent persons, if they are brought to my attention, I will look into their case individually and make a case for them. I certainly will do that,” the Director-General said.