Rail terminus: Oyo church decries non-access to worship centre
Leaders and members of Christ Apostolic Church, Oke Igbagbo, located at the Obafemi Awolowo Railway Station, Akinyemi Council, Oyo State, have decried the closure of access roads to the church since the construction and operation of the train terminus started.
The church members and stakeholders, including residents of over 15 communities, insisted that the closure of access roads leading into and out of the communities, has made life unbearable for them.
In a statement made available to The Guardian and signed by Prof. I. O. Obisesan, Elder (Tpl) O. A. Adeyemi, Barr. T. O. Olalere, Elder E. O. Adedokun, Pastor P. O. Adeagbo, Pastor T. S. O. Oladejo, Pastor Jacob Ajagbe, Dcns. O. A. Adedokun, Pastor Oluwabamigbe Agboola, Mrs Oluwafunmilayo Alawode, Lady Evangelist D.O. Adeniyi, Dcns J. O. Olalere, Pastor J. O. Olalere and Mrs. Funmilayo Akinosun, the church argued that: “Our forefathers were traditional worshipers before they had an encounter with Jesus Christ and converted to Christianity en-mass under the Christ Apostolic Church Nigeria and Overseas.
“Consequent upon their new found faith, they set aside about two acres of land for the building of a befitting church auditorium and ministers’ lodge. At the centre of the village was the first church building and a Mission House. The Church grew rapidly because people from the neighbourhood and villages afar were and are worshiping in the church. In other words, the church has members from more than 15 villages, to wit: Igbagbo Village (the host), Gbaku Village, Olode Village, Akonko Village, Molarere Village, Mogaji Village, Isabiyi Village, Akinyode Village, Rehabilitation Centre for the disabled persons, Lapite Village, Sogunro Village, Olorombo Village, Otun-Agbakin Village, Jooye Village and Alakeji village, among others.
“Following the unprecedented growth of the church, the worshipers built the extant gigantic modern edifice. However, around the 1990s, Akinyele Council came and acquired all the lands surrounding Igbagbo village, leaving only the developed area, that is, only the area with structures/buildings on it, even though the acquisition process had its own challenge.
“Similarly, around 2016/2017, the Federal Government, through the Federal Ministry of Transport, came again and acquired what was left of the village for the Nigerian Railway Modernisation Project (Lagos-Ibadan Section) except the church building that escaped the acquisition.
“Therefore the only thing left in the whole of Igbagbo Village was and still is, the gigantic 70-year-old church building constructed by our forefathers with their hard-earn money and handed over to us as an ancestral heritage. The construction of the railway terminus was begun and completed. We now have the rail lines/tracks on the right side of the church.
“Notwithstanding the situation that Igbagbo villagers and the church found themselves in, we still perform our religious rites even though the construction and blasting of rock at the time of construction shattered the window glass of the church.
“After the demolition of all houses in the village, including the first church building and the relocation of our dead heroes and heroines of faith to the back of the church building, then came another issue of access road to the terminus and the dry port site in the neighbourhood by the Federal Ministry of Transport.
“We woke up one day, precisely on January 24 2021 and found the demarcation lines to map out the route for the access road. The route is on the left side of the church. Seeing this, we swung into action and our representatives visited the Federal Ministry of Transport office at the railway terminus, Obafemi Awolowo Station, Igbagbo (but now addressed as Moniya) where they met the Project Civil Engineer (Ibadan Section) and his team; and discussed on the said access road vis-à-vis the church. The discussions produced positive hopes.
“Thereafter, the church and the villagers engaged the services of a lawyer who acted on our instruction and wrote a letter of complaint to the minister for Transport to formalise our concern and request. The letter was dated May 11, 2021 and served on May 19, 2021.
“Gladly on May 27, 2021, the reply to our letter from the Federal Ministry of Transport dated May 26, 2021, was received with a specific assurance that our concern and request would be attended to at the time of commencement of the project.
“However, when the time to commence the project came, we saw some signals which aroused our fears that things might not work as assured. Again in the neighbourhood, the community people from Isabiyi, Olorisaoko, Lapite, Gbaku, Olode, Mogaji, Akinyode, Temidire, Akinboro, Agedengbe and Igbagbo villages, also staged a protest for blockage of the only road which connects these villages from old Oyo Road to Ibadan-Iseyin Road, this road passes through Igbagbo Village (the access road we pleaded and still pleading for). These community people brought their protest to the Railway Terminus. This protest was anchored by the Youth Association called OMI Akinyele Descendants Union, an Incorporated Trustees registered under the Companies and Allied Matters Act.
“As a result of these complaints put together, our representatives joined the representatives of the community and visited the District Manager, Nigerian Railway Corporation Ibadan on November 17, 2022. The District Manager immediately raised a team to visit the site for assessment of the complaints and give reports.
“Following this, a four-man Nigeria Railway Corporation/Federal Ministry of Transport team led by the District Engineer, visited Igbagbo village on Monday November 20, 2022. During the visit, the team visited the construction site, the stream along Isabiyi Road and the church building among other places; and at the end of the day, we suggested an underpass bridge to enable us and other communities to have access to the church and beyond. The team said it would write its report and that we would be informed of the outcome of their visit/fact finding. Till date no report came to us.
“We did not stop at this step, we took further steps. Our solicitor wrote another letter to the Federal Ministry of Transport dated November 25, 2022 reminding the minister to give effect to his letter dated May 26, 2021 on this subject. We also sent the same letter to The Employers’ Representatives, which is the office in charge of the Lagos-Ibadan Modernisation Project at Adumbu Village, Papalanto, Ogun State.
Both the Federal Ministry of Transport and the Employers’ Representatives remain incommunicado till date.
“To our surprise, on Monday March 6, 2023, we discovered that the construction company has started filling up and blocking the access to the church without due consideration for the church, the faith/religion of the people and interconnectivity of the communities.”
The group urged the Federal Government to “come to our rescue in any of the following ways: grant us an underpass bridge to access the church and the burial ground with many graves of the dead members of the church and the villagers; or create alternative road through Lapite/Ketepe villages axis to access the church; or relocate the church building and the graves to another place since we do not have another place/village we can call our own; or compensate us adequately so that we can pick the pieces of our lives and live again.”