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Tension in Lagos estate as homeowners threaten showdown with police, thugs

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Fears are mounting on a possible breakdown of law and order in the Lekki area of Lagos following the resolve of homeowners of Alma Beach Estate to confront a detachment of policemen and local thugs allegedly mobilised by suspected trespassers to demolish their houses and forcefully take over their properties.

The tension building up in the community is coming on the heels of the recent #EndSARS protest against police brutality that led to the loss of lives and property across the country, especially in the Lekki area of Lagos.

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A top police officer was said to have deployed the armed policemen providing security cover for the alleged land grabbers and causing trouble in the area in defiance of the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, and the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami directive.

The issue started in what appeared as a child’s play in 2017, when a firm, NICON Trustees, began to lay claim to owning 150 plots of land in Alma Beach Estate without any authentic survey or registered title to back up its claim after it was roundly rejected by the Lagos State government through the state Surveyor-General, Mr Olutomi Sangowawa, in a memo to the Assistant Inspector General of Police, AIG, Zone 2, with ref: AR: 3000/ZN/MTU/TMU/TM4/VOL.2/116 and dated July 3rd, 2020.

While the state government affirmed that estate home or landowners did not only have their titles consented to by the government but equally registered as confirmed by their survey plan No. LA/0807/2007/05, it said that of NICON Trustees marked SJA/301/076K/2003/LA does not exist in the state records.

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Prior to the intervention of the state government, the authentic home and owners in the estate had also secured two court orders restraining NICON Trustees from trespassing in the estate. This formed the basis of a letter from the Attorney General of the Federation dated August 20, 2020, to the Inspector General of Police to ensure policemen were not deployed to the estate for illegal activities and in contravention of two court orders issued by the Federal High Court on October 24, 2019, and January 23, 2020.

Counsel to the estate home and landowners, Dr Muiz Banire, has, however, expressed shock over the defiant activities of the policemen who allegedly continue to provide cover for armed thugs to destroy peoples’ houses and allowing illegal developers to build day and night.

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“This is the type of illegalities that recently led to a nationwide uprising against the police. In this case, if the rightful allottees decide to defend themselves against the invasion and destruction of their homes and properties, and there is a breakdown of law and order in Alma Beach, Lekki, any police officer responsible for the deployment of policemen to provide cover for hoodlums terrorizing the allottees of Alma Beach Estate should be held responsible and accountable coming against the backdrop of recent unsavory incidents in Lekki,” Banire stated while reacting to the development.

He wondered that the police action was against several commitments to withdraw their men from the illegal duty after meetings with the leadership of the force, both at the state and national levels, thus raising owners’ concern over possible financial inducements and compromise.

When contacted for the reaction of the Lagos State Police Command, its spokesman, Olumuyiwa Adejobi, said the IGP had interviewed the parties, pledging to give an update on the matter soonest.

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