Osun Land Crisis: Adeleke bans monarch from making land transactions
Sequel to The Guardian’s last Sunday’s exclusive report on the plight of communities in Osun State, the state government has banned the Olu of Ile Ogbo, Oba Abeeb Adetoyese Agbaje Arowo Okunjoye II from participating in land transactions.
The report, titled, ‘Osun Communities On Edge Over Alleged Land Grab By Monarch’, exposed the human rights abuses, injustices, intimidation and harassment meted out to residents of Ile Ogbo, Momu, Eleni, Obielu, Oke-Osun and many other communities in Aiyedire Local Council by the monarch.
It also exposed the dilemma of the indigenes and landowners, who are counting their losses as a result of the alleged land grabbing and bullying by the monarch, whom they claimed has been enriching himself with their commonwealth.
Investigations in the course of gathering materials for the report showed that the unpleasant development, which has been happening since the monarch was enthroned, was hindering the development of the community, as investors had allegedly been forced to flee the town.
The lawyer to Mr. Biliaminu Salami-Adeoje, a 59-year-old visually impaired man and one of the victims of the land grabbing in the community, whose over 100 acres were allegedly sold by the monarch in Eleni community, had in the wake of the publication of the report, petitioned Governor Senator Ademola Nurudeen Jackson Adeleke, seeking for intervention and justice.
In the petition, titled, ‘Save Our Client’s Soul From Oba Abibu Adetoyese Agbaje – Olu Of Ile Ogbo’, signed by M.A Yekeen Esq, Salami-Adeoje cited the publication, where he noted that the monarch has sent many people to prison after forcefully grabbing their lands.
The petition read in part: “Sir, our client are peace loving people and have lived with their neighbouring villages and most of whom will attest to our client’s absolute right to the land. Sir, we are aware that our client’s neighbours at Oke-Osun, Mamu, Abimbola have suffered similar fate with Olu of Ile Ogbo. It is common knowledge at Ile Ogbo that Olu of Ile Ogbo is from Onijayi Royal Family, as the said family has no single plot of land at Eleni village.
“We are calling on our able, dynamic and responsive governor to save our client’s soul before it would be too late. If drastic steps are not taken in time, Eleni and Ile Ogbo crisis will affect the peaceful atmosphere of Osun State, which we have been enjoying since the inception of the Imole Government.”
The Guardian gathered that the state government, through the Ministry of Lands and Physical Planning, initiated efforts to amicably resolve the land disputes last Monday.
A statement released by the Office of the Governor disclosed that Adeleke has issued a proactive directive in response to the escalating tension in the areas.
“The governor has instructed the Commissioner for Lands and Physical Planning, George Alabi, and other key stakeholders involved in the resolution process to expedite efforts in finding a peaceful settlement to the dispute.
“With a commitment to fostering harmony and peaceful coexistence among all parties involved, the governor earnestly appeals to all actors in the land crisis to immediately halt all hostilities. This plea comes in light of the ongoing investigation and fact-finding meeting initiated by the Osun State government.
“The governor firmly believes that dialogue and cooperation are paramount in achieving a fair and lasting resolution. As the fact-finding meeting progresses, the state government assures all stakeholders that their concerns will be attentively addressed, and a transparent process will be followed to reach an equitable agreement.
“Furthermore, the Osun State government calls upon all members of the community to remain calm, patient and law-abiding throughout this resolution process. The government is committed to ensuring that justice prevails, and that all parties involved find a mutually beneficial resolution that upholds the rights and interests of everyone concerned,” the statement said.
The Guardian later learnt from one of the victims that the state government summoned a meeting last Tuesday, where all the stakeholders involved in the land dispute were interrogated.
Rising from the meeting, which The Guardian learnt was presided by the Osun State Attorney General, Wole Jimi-Bada and the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Dosu Babatunde, the state government issued a directive banning the traditional ruler from participating in land transactions in his domain.
The government noted that the decision became necessary to curtail frequent cases of alleged land grabbing by the monarch within Ile Ogbo and surrounding villages.
He was also banned from using any of his palace cronies to engage in forceful acquisition of land in the area.
The monarch was also asked to caution his emissaries and accomplices, mostly the head of Ile Ogbo princes, Gbadewolu Oyelami Kasali and other chiefs he allegedly uses to perpetrate the illegality to desist henceforth.
“Aside from numerous newspaper publications, we have received petitions against the Palace and office of the Olu of Ile Ogbo, HRM Oba Abeeb Adetoyese Agbaje Arowo Okunjoye II of forceful land acquisition and sales.
“Most of those publications and petitions are pointing to the state government as an accomplice. Just two days ago, it was boldly written on the front page of The Guardian newspaper, of helpless people seeking government intervention. To sustain the integrity of our government and ensure a peaceful atmosphere in Ile Ogbo and adjoining villages, the Olu of Ile Ogbo should stop engaging in land transactions in whatever form within the Ayedire Local Council, pending our investigation.
“We have set up a committee to investigate and come up with a report and recommendations. The warning should be respected. Anyone whose land has been taken unjustly or forcefully should not hesitate to get across through the Osun State Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs,” said the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs while speaking during the meeting.
A Prince from the town, Oyewole Yakeen Ajagbe, who lauded the governor for his quick intervention, said those who exposed the monarch’s injustices were not waging war against him but only want him to change his ways.
“The idea of what we are fighting is not for anything, but for our children. Ile Ogbo is short of land for school, hospital or any other developmental projects. We are not fighting against him but for the future of the children. What is happening currently had never happened in Ile Ogbo before. This is not just about him, but for the future of the children.”
Another indigene of the area, Mr. Akin Adebisi, who also lauded the state government for its prompt response, said the interventions so far would bring back the peace that had eluded the communities.
He also commended The Guardian for the report, noting that it put the state government on its toes with regard to the matter.
Get the latest news delivered straight to your inbox every day of the week. Stay informed with the Guardian’s leading coverage of Nigerian and world news, business, technology and sports.