Sanwo-Olu, Oreki community and viral video
My attention has been drawn to a viral video in which an individual claimed that the property of residents was purportedly demolished in Oreki community in the Ibeju-Lekki area of the state on the order of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu.
In as much one will not want to join issues with proponent of the said claim, I have a duty to put the matter in proper context. My main intent in doing this is to correct the wrong narrative meant to deceive unsuspecting members of the public.
First, it is important to stress that the concerned parcel of land falls under government acquisition. Specifically, Idera Private Estate Developers’ Scheme, Ibeju-Lekki, conceived in 2004 and covers 1040.893 hectares of land. The parcel is designed as a lumpsum land allocation to facilitate large scale development within the Lekki axis.
The site earmarked for the Scheme is covered by the Lagos State Official Gazette No. 20 Vol. 26 on Notice of Revocation of Right of Occupancy issued 13th May, 1993 (section 1).
According to the Gazette, all parcel of land stretching from Maroko eastwards to the boundary of Lagos Lagoon, Lekki Lagoon and Omu Creek in the South by Atlantic Ocean, including Refuge Island, Erekusu, Ita-Oko Island, but excluding established villages, towns and settlements in Eti-Osa and Ibeju Lekki Local Government Area of Lagos State of Nigeria and containing an area of approximately 823.0km2 was acquired for overriding public interest since the year 1981.
This is meant for the construction of lower, medium and upper income housing scheme; the construction of schools and hospital and private estate developers scheme.
To harness the full potentials of the scheme, the government, few years after its conception, began allocation to interested private developers.
Consequently, initial land allocations were made to Pan African University (100ha) in 2005 and Charis University (150ha) in 2007. While Pan African University has taken possession; the 150 hectares of land allocation to Charis University was withdrawn due to non-payment on the allocation. Unfortunately, the site was heavily encroached, in spite of several contravention notices.
Accordingly, the government granted excision to various communities/villages within areas adjoining the scheme. Some of the excisions include – Oreki village Parcel A & B (14.06ha & 6ha), Olorunishola village (15.05ha), Orile-Gbarada village (15.056ha), Odubella village (5ha) and Alugbere village (10ha), while Kaiyetoro village (12.57ha) was also granted excision in close proximity to the scheme.
One of the built-up areas/communities specifically named Military Quarters, covering 50 hectares of land, which was sold to individuals by Baale of Kaiyetoro within the scheme was considered for regularization. This is based on appeal to the government, and the community was advised to desist from further encroachment into the scheme.
As a result, there was an agreement between the Military Quarters and the government that further extension will be prevented.
The area purported to be Oke-Egan was an extension of Military Quarters because the area was sold to an individual by Baale Kaiyetoro, who also claimed to have sold the land within the Military Quarters to individuals.
Despite consideration of excised villages and incorporation of built up area within the scheme, the incessant illegal activities by self-acclaimed land owners, which include sand mining and illegal land sale for physical development became rampant.
This is in disregard to warnings by the New Towns Development Authority (NTDA), and inspite of the allocation of the said land by the government to investors under the Private Sector Developers’ Programme (PSDP).
With the illegal developments identified and marked, as far back as 2012, the encroachment within the scheme continued unabated. The process of reclaiming the land was kicked-off with the serving of contravention notices on the individuals/illegal developers.
However, no response was obtained with respect to request for the submission of relevant land titles, building plan approvals and other official documents conferring land ownership, etc, except the verbal word from Baale Kaiyetoro, who claimed to have sold the whole land because it belongs to him without any proof of ownership.
To serve as deterrence to further encroachments, the government initiated appropriate measures to effect the removal of illegal developments to enable original Allottees take possession, particularly as a result of the resistance or defiant posture of Omo-onile and miscreants occupying most of the uncompleted buildings.
For a successful operation, the government requested the involvement of relevant sister Agencies for the removal of the illegal developments and dislodging of the hoodlums.
Consequently, the first phase of demolition exercise was carried out and concluded in October 2020. During the exercise, it was observed that construction of new fences and buildings were on-going within some areas, especially the area now called “Oke-Egan Community”.
Contrary to spurious claims in the video, the demolition exercise was suspended due to the EndSars protest to forestall further disruption of activities of the government and law-abiding citizens. However, in January 2021, the NTDA initiated the conclusion of the demolition/removal exercise.
Before its commencement, all buildings previously marked were further served contravention notices with no response from owners. Upon the lapse of the period stated on the contravention notice; stakeholders consultations was held with affected individuals/illegal developers who were advised to remove the illegal developments. Eventually, the final phase of the removal of illegal development commenced on Monday, 8th February, 2021.
On completion of the exercise, affected individuals/illegal developers constituted themselves into “Oke-Egan Community” and protested the demolition of buildings within the portion of the scheme area, claiming they were not notified, but their claims were untrue.
By virtue of the sharp practices being perpetrated by Omo Oniles and other unpatriotic people in Lekki and Ibeju areas, the government has always warned those interested in buying landed property in the axis to carry out due diligence; through the conduct of land information inquiry at the Land Registry before making any commitment.
Obviously, this was not done in this circumstance.
Tough as the decision to remove contravened buildings may seem, the government cannot allow those who acquire land illegally to hold on to it, while those who go through the normal route to acquire the same property are made to lose their investments and left in the cold.
This will be akin to promoting illegality and encouraging disorderliness. If the table is turned, those who are on the wrong side of the Law today and castigating the government for cheap political gains will praise the Governor for defending their cause if they had acquired their land through legal process.
The action of the government is to secure the investment of genuine investors and the integrity of real estate business in the State.
Investors in real estate business are enjoined to always remain circumspect and ensure they undergo the right processes before committing their hard earned resources into any investment. They are urged to avoid being victims of those that engage in illegal land transactions.
As for the promoter of the viral video, it must be stressed that communicating to a national or global audience via whatever media is a sacred duty. Those who engage in it hold a duty to be truthful, decent and responsible.
There is always two sides to any issue, but the truth is always constant.