Thugs Sack 130 Landlords

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Following a court judgement, at least 130 landlords have been evicted from their houses at Ejigbo area of Lagos State, South West Nigeria by suspected thugs .

The affected landlords from Ilamoshe community stormed the office of the State Attorney General at Secretariat, Alausa, Ikeja yesterday to protest their eviction from their houses and called on Governor Babatunde Fashola to come to their aid.

The family of Samuel Ojo had gone to court to reclaim the about 150 plots of land it said belonged to the family which was acquired by the affected landlords.

They won the case both at the High and Appeal Courts against the landlords.

The court has asked the Ojo family to take possession of its land and in claiming possession, the landlords were evicted from their houses last week, while the Ojo family allegedly shunned all forms of dialogue but preferred to deal with the landlords individually if any was interested in getting back his land.

During the protest in Alausa, the landlords carried placards, some of which read, “Ilamoshe under siege,” “Our houses are under lock and key,” “Save our soul,” “Save us from Odunsi and Ojo,” “I am 87 years old, I can’t sleep under the bridge” and “I’m a widow, I can’t sleep under the bridge.”

The protesters claimed that their houses had been locked since last week when suspected thugs, numbering around 100 stormed the area, drove them from their houses and padlocked them.

Chairman of Ejigbo Local Council Development Area, LCDA, Mr. Kehinde Bamigbetan, led the protesters to Alausa, saying that the protest was aimed at seeking the intervention of the state government to compel the plaintiff to open the locks to enable the residents have access to their houses.

The chairman stated that in executing the court judgment, the Odunsi family had exceeded the stipulated boundary, thus affecting residents who had nothing to do with the judgment.

“We are demanding the immediate unlocking of all the gates of houses that have been locked for the past one week. We are demanding that the lawyer, Mr. Odunsi, should be brought to the round table so that we can engage him and know the configuration of his territory.

“We insist, therefore, that in the execution of the court verdict that he has got, he has to respect the rights of the residents to collectively engage him in bargaining for the best way out of the matter.

“These residents are also insisting that many of them are not affected by the court verdict. They are requesting that the plaintiff in this case should be transparent enough to present the exact boundaries and exact configuration of the territory he is talking about, so that we can identify the number of properties within this territory and then we know those who are actually affected and who are not,” he explained.

Chairman, of the Ilamoshe Community Development Association, Barrister Val Iwuchukwu, said the residents had been locked out of their houses since last week by suspected hoodlums allegedly working for the Ojo family.

According to him, Barrister Cornelius Odunsi, counsel to Samuel Ojo family, had served the residents quit notice for illegally occupying the land that did not belong to them.

He stated that the residents had purchased about 150 plots of land from one Odubada family about 30 years ago but was surprised that another family, Samuel Ojo, could lay claim to the land now through court judgment.

Iwuchukwu said that Odunsi had refused to dialogue with the association, demanding that each landlord perfected his or her title document individually.

Addressing the protesters on behalf of the commissioner for Justice, the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Justice Sector Reforms, Mr. Lanre Akinsola, said the commissioner, Mr. Ade Ipaye, had received the petition on the matter and had since set up a committee to resolve it.

However, Odunsi, counsel to the plaintiff defended his actions, saying he obtained valid court judgment on the rightful ownership of the disputed land, adding that some residents had started complying with the order by coming to regularise their land documents.

—Kazeem Ugbodaga

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