Inside Lagos Island Community Where Notorious Land Grabbers Unleash Terror on Helpless Residents, Kill Youth Leader
By Bolaji Israel
The residents of Ojomu community, Ajiran land, in Eti Osa local government of Lagos State, are living in constant fear due to the activities of violent land grabbers.
These land grabbers operate with impunity, using threats, intimidation, harassment, forceful seizure of lands, and even resorting to violence and sometimes murder. Despite possessing all the required official documents, they resell the lands to multiple unsuspecting buyers. The situation has escalated to the point where innocent lives are being lost, and human rights are being violated.
Curiously, the Lagos State Anti Land Grabbing Law Sections 2 and 4 clearly criminalises use of threat to secure entry to land for self or anyone, stipulating a fine of 5 million naira maximum and five years prison term or both.
The lack of proper enforcement of the extant Laws has however left the victims looking to the government for urgent succour.
It was gathered that even traditional authorities are not spared as the hardline marauders are emboldened by support allegedly received from police, top government officials and personnel of the ministry of lands to get security protection and procure forged documents.
One victim, Dayo Joshua, shared his harrowing experience in Chevy Estate, Ajiran. In 2012, he acquired a land, obtained all necessary papers, erected fence, put a gate and employed security guard to properly secure the property. However, he was called in 2021 while at work that some people on the orders of Frank Enem, also known as Frajek, were bulldozing his fence. Frajek is known to move around with police escort. Joshua ran to the police at zone 2 and both parties were ordered to maintain status quo. While the police investigation lasted for about a year, Frajek never honoured invitations.
In August 2022, on the day both parties were invited for final resolution, while Joshua was waiting at zone 2, Frajek was on the property in company of police officers from Alagbon Ikoyi beating up guards and building on the land.
Despite complains at Ikoyi, construction continued while Joshua kept going to court to seek justice. This is just one example of the rampant abuse of power by land grabbers in the community.
For Joshua, he will not back down but continue to explore all judicial means to get justice though so discouraging and hard to be law abiding in view of the circumstances. “I can’t be pushed aside, I will pursue this matter to the last in court and seek justice.”
Recognizing the need to address this issue, the Centre for Human and Socio-Economic Rights (CHSR) has raised the alarm and called for action. Comrade Alex Omotehinse, the president of CHSR, highlighted the need to end the abuse of human rights and the violation of laws in Lagos State.
Sources said the gang of land grabbers, led by one Mr. Hammed Tajudeen, also known as Hammed Ajiran operate in blatant disregard for the traditional authorities of Ajiran land and the laws of Lagos State. They bypass legitimate land documentation and ignore valid agreements between landowners and families in Ojomu community.
It was said that the gang threatened the life of Alhaji Yekini Bakare, Balogun Ajironland, and Baba Adinni Eti-Osa Mosque recently over a land grabbing matter.
Emboldened by the unchecked impunity spree, thugs were said to have written unlawful inscription and notices on various genuinely allotted property, scaring away rightful owners as frantic efforts to get the state government’s intervention proved abortive. Some residents were even given barbaric eviction notice.
Findings also revealed that the violent thugs chase away genuine owners of property, hijack it and sell to a second party, supervise hurried construction and sale to the third party in a bid to complicate things and circumvent the process of justice. As such, over 150 cases of litigation abound in court with related pattern.
These activities not only violate the rights of the rightful landowners but also undermine the authority of the traditional institutions vested in the office of Ojomu of Ajiran Land, Oba Tijani Akinloye (Sateru II).
The CHSR has however demanded that both the Lagos State Government and the Nigeria Police Force put an end to the harassment and intimidation faced by authentic landowners in Ojomu community.
The CHSR also urged Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu to reverse the situation by restoring peace of mind to residents, and honour and pride to the legally recognized custodians of the culture and heritage of Ajiran land.
“Just like the various petitions by concerned community stakeholders and victims of unlawful activities of land grabbers in Ajiran Land provided insights into the magnitude of the challenge, CHSR also worried that land grabbers are becoming more entrenched than hitherto imagined in spite of a Task Force established to nip the menace in the bud.
“We are saddened by the killing, on Tuesday 18, April, of Sheriff Salami in cruel circumstances suspected to be a fallout of the deceased’s opposition to activities of land grabbers in the community.
“We call on Lagos State government and the Police to probe the death of Sheriff Ishola Salami who was a son of late Bashorun Of Ajiran Land, Chief Ishola Salami. We demand justice for the deceased Sheriff Ishola Salami who left behind three daughters and an aged mother.
“CHSR is however more concerned that most of the land being forcibly confiscated by these land grabbers are legally and validly documented by the original owners most of whom are in possession of genuine Deed of Assignment and with full authorisation of the relevant families from whom the lands were purchased.
Mr. Ahmed Tajudeen, who claims to be an indigene of the community, has denied being a land grabber.