Lagos residents lament as ‘thugs’ invade property
•They are bailiffs, not miscreants, says Hundeyin
• Government calls for calm
Residents and property owners in Surulere and environs have lamented alleged invasion of their homes and property by thugs.
The Guardian gathered that the traditional ruler, Onikate of Ikate, Surulere, Lagos, Oba Lateef Atanda Adams, is laying claim to the entire neighbourhoods, covering Masha Roundabout, Adelabu Road and some inner streets, measuring about 315.9 acres.
It was learnt that thugs numbering 50 in two trucks were deployed to the area to mark 2,500 buildings built by the Federal Government pre-independence, for repossession by a court order.
The buildings were marked with the inscription ‘IKD/288/68 possession taken today 30/3/2023 by court’.
Oba Adams is threatening to reclaim the entire land from the present occupiers on the grounds that the state government did not pay compensation to the family/original landowners when the land was acquired about 40 years ago, as stipulated by the Land Use Act, 1978.
He said the property owners did not recognise or buy the land directly from the family and as such, they must present the receipts or other documents on such property and enter new agreements with the family.
The Oba is relying on a judgment delivered by Justice Olusan Bada of the Lagos State High Court in suit No 18/118/68 on November 10, 1975, which declared land measuring 315.9 acres as captured by survey plan number ‘AGW/263’ to the defendants/judgment creditors and affirmed by the ruling delivered by Justice M.A. Lawal of the Ikeja Judicial Division of Lagos State High Court on December 9, 2022.
The traditional ruler urged owners of the affected property to come with whatever documents they have to facilitate a settlement.
Speaking with The Guardian, a resident who craved anonymity, said: “They came in two trucks; the people were scared and everyone ran back inside and no one could challenge them. They only came in trucks without the police.
When asked if the residents had met with the monarch, he said: “We had a meeting on Saturday, April 1, 2023 and it was decided that nobody should call the monarch, so that we will have a common front.”
Reacting, Director, Public Affairs, Lagos State Ministry of Justice, Grace Alo, said: “The attention of the Lagos State Government has been drawn to the purported execution of a Court Judgment within the Masha axis in the Surulere Local Council, in which some houses were marked for possession, thereby causing fear and anxiety, which may lead to a breach of the peace.
“As a responsive government, it has become imperative to listen to the yearning of the people and take immediate and appropriate steps to ensure that the rights of the people are well protected.
“Members of the public are hereby notified that the Office of the Attorney-General is investigating the matter and will take necessary steps to protect the rights of the people of Lagos State.
“We, therefore, urge members of the public to remain calm and law-abiding and maintain peace and order within the State while necessary steps are being taken in this regard.”
Speaking with The Guardian, the Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Benjamin Hundeyin, said: “Bailiffs went there to write on the walls. So, where did thugs come into the whole matter? At this age and time, people are quick to bring out their phones to take pictures, even places they are shooting. But for this, where are the pictures or videos to back it up that thugs invaded their property?
“People can’t be making spurious allegations; we have a Divisional Police Officer (DPO) there and we called him several times to find out what is happening, and there was nothing like thugs.
“Of course, some people are not happy that other people won the case and are taking possession of their lands. It’s a court case and if they don’t like it, they should appeal the judgment.”