Businesses grounded, movement restricted over fear of forceful takeover in Magodo
Commercial activities were grounded, while movements were restricted yesterday at Magodo, a highbrow settlement in Lagos over fears of the forceful takeover of the estate.
Residents also locked two gates to the estate to prevent any forceful invasion of their properties following moves by Shangisha Landlords Association, to execute Supreme Court judgment, which was said to have mandated the Lagos State government to give back 549 plots of land to the original owners of the area, before the acquisition 38 years ago.
The Guardian gathered that the ensuing pandemonium led to the cancellation of appointments as residents and business owners who besieged the gates in a desperate attempt to gain entry could not.
Also, the effect of the gate closure led to a backlog of traffic that affected vehicular movements around the area.
It was gathered that on Tuesday, stern-looking policemen with more than 1,000 youths, apparently recruited by Shangisha Landlords Association, took strategic positions around the estate, moved from house to house marking inscriptions on some buildings indicating that the court had given the right to take possession of the land on which the houses were built.
The Guardian observed inscriptions such as ‘possession was taken over on various properties, which included banks, fashion houses, law firms and various residential houses.
Speaking with The Guardian, Chairman Board of Trustees, Magodo Residents Association, Professor Ayodele Ogunye said residents have always had issues with land grabbers but it has never got to this extent.
He said: “About 50 law enforcement agents with guns accompanied these people (land grabbers). They have continued to harass us. I have been to Alagbon three times this year on this particular issue. Yesterday (Tuesday) morning, some people came in to besiege us.
“They said they were bailiffs trying to enforce the Supreme Court judgment. They are not Lagos State Government bailiff, if they were, they will wear their jackets. Maybe they hired some area boys to come in as bailiff.
“The senior officer that led them said he got instruction from the top to follow them and we told them to show us the judgment they were enforcing, and they showed our lawyer a press release. Press release is not a court judgment or court instruction that they should have shown us.
“They were marking houses, including houses we have been living in since 1992. We gathered that the government was not informed, how could they come into a government estate without clearance from the governor, the governor said he is not aware of the siege.”
Also, Legal Adviser, Magodo Residents Association, Tunji Abdulhameed explained that the estate gate was locked to prevent suspected land grabbers from invading the estate with bulldozers.
He said the land grabbers got a judgment in 1993, which was not properly captured. He stated that the judge indicated that the government should allocate 549 plots to them with no specification to the area, property, and location of the plots of land.
“They came around 1:00 p.m. yesterday; the land grabbers invaded the estate and the police gave them backing. I asked what they were doing here and the police said they are trying to enforce the judgment.
“When I asked for a copy of the judgment, no document was shown to me. What they showed was a newspaper publication, which was to inform the world that they are the owner of the property.
“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.”
Chairman, Magodo Residents Association (MRA), Banjo Osinubi also lamented that the state government has been mum on the matter while urging them to sit down with the family and resolve the issues.