#Residents Await Lagos Govt’s Decisive Actions As Land Grabbers Unleash Mayhem On Magodo GRA

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Families  and groups in the Magodo GRA Phases 1 and 2 have been complaining bitterly about their constant exposure to a plethora of attacks instigated by  suspected land grabbers, traditional authorities, developers and families claiming ownership of landed property in the estates located in the Kosofe Local Government Area of Lagos State.

As gathered by this reporter, the attacks included land grabbers’ illegal intrusion into the government residential estates; unauthorised structural demolition; relentless efforts to situating housing estate development in a vast gorge separating Magodo GRA 1 and 2 against government and expert admonitions; extortion through illegal toll collection, among other odious experiences threatening residents lives and property within and beyond the estates.

Unbefitting to these upscale estates controlled by the state government through the New Towns Development Authority, these  desperate interlopers use the instrumentality of men of the Nigeria Police Force and other security agents to intimidate and unabatedly unleash a series of criminal inclined activities on landlords and residents of these highbrow estates, without fear or remorse.

On Tuesday, December 21, 2021, the landlords and residents in the Magodo Phase 2 estate witnessed another siege from these usual suspects when no fewer than 300 armed policemen and a group invaded the estate.

During the invasion, people were thrown into confusion as the intruders, used spray paints to inscribe ‘ID/795/88 Possession Taken Today 21/12/21 by Court Order,’ on the walls and gates of various buildings in the estate.

It was learnt that the interlopers’, while claiming they had a judgment, intended to mark 549 buildings in the estate for possession, but as they perpetrated the act, they did so without presenting appropriate documentation authorising their action.

In an unexpected twist of events, a yet-to-be-identified driver of a bulldozer, while reportedly acting on the directive of the intruders, advanced the bulldozer toward the direction of the Magodo Phase 2 estate when the estate management closed the estate gates to secure property in the estate.

“Most of us left the estate gate around 2.30am on Wednesday and we came back here around 6am after notifying everyone that nobody would be allowed to go out and come in from 6am on Wednesday.

“The essence of the closure of the gate was to create awareness to the public and to draw the attention of the government as to what is happening in Magodo so that we can get protection from them,” the legal adviser, Magodo Residents Association, Tunji Abdulhameed, said while describing the actions of the intruders as illegal.

Countering the judgment claim influencing the actions of the invaders, Abdulhammed said there was no specification to the area, property, location of the plots of land in the judgment they got in 1993.

He added, “But for you to execute even when you get judgment, you must still apply for writ of possession and without it you cannot enforce judgment. So, when they applied for the writ of possession and it was approved, we challenged it and that was the time the residents association joined the case as we were not part of the case before they got the judgment.

“So, when we challenged it, the writ of possession was set aside and they appealed against the ruling and both of us are at the court of appeal challenging the ruling, so the matter is still pending. They know the judgment was a bad judgment as it was was not properly captured and that is why they are trying to look for a way.

“They came around 1pm yesterday (Tuesday); the police were up to 100 and the thugs were more than 200. They invaded the estate and the police gave them backing. I asked what they were doing here and the police said they were trying to enforce a court judgment.

“I asked for a copy of the judgment but no document was provided. What they showed was a newspaper publication which they did themselves to inform the world that they were the owner of the property. But which land is the judgment talking about? whose property? whose houses? the judgment is not certain and judgment must be certain and specific.”

However, the unexpected closure of the gates created confusion as residents and businessmen flooded them in a desperate attempt to gain entry or exit the estate.

Stranded victims were heard lamenting missing their various appointments due to the condition that led to a backlog of traffic that affected vehicular movements around the Magodo Phase 2 area.

The Chairman of the estate, Bajo Osinubi, said it took the intervention of the state Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, before one of the gates was opened as the DC Operations, who visited the estate during the uproar, said the Inspector-General of Police, Baba Usman, had promised to withdraw the policemen involved in the invasion.

He said, “We opened the gate about an hour ago because we had a promise from the Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, that he is on top of the case and he actually sent in the Mayoress of Ikosi, Princess Gbada, to tell us that the policemen will be withdrawn and that this siege that has become perennial will never happen again.

“The policemen claimed that they came from the IGP’s office. The police action gave members of the family a chance to commit falsehood as they came in to gain possession without any legal document.”

This worrisome situation depicts the many mind-boggling challenges posed by lawless interlopers unashamedly unleashing disorderliness to cripple the estate management and government’s exclusive rights to administer the affairs in the estate peacefully and with utmost respect to the fundamental rights of the concerned landlords and residents.

To worsen the situation, as evident in another government estate, the Gateway Zone, in Magodo G.R.A Phase 1, these desperate land grabbers, who are sponsored by traditional institutions, members of some families and group of companies, had also been allegedly enjoying the influential backing of some members of the Lagos State House of Assembly.

The concerned landlords and residents alleged that the lawmakers had been working at cross purposes with the executive arm of government that had openly and repeatedly declared that building housing projects in a vast gorge behind the Gateway Zone was illegal.

Against the directive of the state government and with brazen disregard to expert warnings that situating housing development in the gorge portended dangers, these groups sponsoring the ill-conceived project had been at loggerheads with the Gateway Zone Community Development Association, for rejecting accessibility to the gorge through its gated estate.

Very recently, no fewer than 30 land grabbers invaded the estate with a bulldozer and demolished a fence to create an access road to construct residential buildings on the gorge.

During the encroachment, the residents informed the Isheri Police Station, used their vehicles to prevent the bulldozer from leaving the premises and arrested the operator for damaging their property.

Angered by the development, landlords and residents in the estate held a protest to voice out their dissatisfaction  against the incessant onslaughts on them by the usual suspects.

During the protest, the Chairman-elect of the estate, Ayo Fasugba, who said a legal document was obtained from the NTDA to fence the border of the estate to protect lives and property, lamented that the land grabbers carried out the attack without presenting any legal document.

He said, “Recently, residents woke up to discover that a bulldozer came in under the pretext that they were part of the construction work going on and within minutes, we saw that a portion of our fence had been pulled down. That action got us angry.

“There is only one access gate in and out of this estate. Before now, hoodlums invaded our estate to attack us. I was once a victim; my family was attacked and the hoodlums took away my car and my property some years back.

“On that premise, we approached the NTDA that if the government would not fix the perimeter fence, we were ready to fix it.  We were granted a letter to fix the fence and we did it, including the road, all of which was done through the efforts of residents.

“But the land grabbers disguised themselves to say they were bringing a tractor to the construction site on the estate, deceived our security guards, came into the estate and pulled down our fence. The meaning of this is that we are exposed to the same danger we were running away from.”

Fasugba, who lamented the lack of support from the state government, said the land grabbers kept saying their actions were backed by the Lagos State House of Assembly.

“Even at the office of the Commissioner of Police at Ikeja, they said they had documents to construct a road through this place from the Lagos State House of Assembly. The House of Assembly is not saddled with the responsibility of approving roads; so, we expect more support from the executive arm.

“We need the government to make a statement as they never produced any legal documentation to back their action. What happened is that the gorge encircles the estate and there are several access routes to the gorge. We had a struggle with the land grabbers when they tried to access the gorge through Ifeoluwa Daniel Street to build an estate there.

“Earlier in the year, another set of people sponsoring the land grabbers approached the CDA with the intent to create an access road to the gorge through Ayo Fasugba Road, but we declined. The place was fenced and there was no access road there. So, they left, only to return and started using a bulldozer to demolish the fence,” he said.

However, the prayers of the affected victims of the continuous siege of land grabbers’ invasion on Magodo GRA Phases 1 and 2 has been for the government to walk the talk despite declaring that building in the gorge is illegal; and to reconcile differences with concerned parties fanning the flames of unrests that have been threatening lives and property of landlords and residents in the estates.

When contacted regarding the situation, the state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotosho, “The state government is assuring them that they are very safe and they can go about their normal duties without any hindrance, disturbance or problem at all.”

Reacting to the incident at Magodo Phase 2, Omotosho said, “The state government will issue a statement any moment from now.”

The Committee Chairman on Information, Strategy and Security, Lagos State House of Assembly, Setonji David said, “All the allegations are false; some people wrote a petition to the House that they are being denied access to their property and the House set up a committee to look into it.

“We will soon respond appropriately but rest assured that we don’t have any vested interest and we will not do anything that will affect both parties. The matter would be resolved very soon and the position of the house will be made public.”

The Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Lagos State, Moyosore Onigbanjo (SAN), said in a statement on Thursday that unknown bailiffs carried out the execution that threw landlords and residents into confusion in the Magodo Phase 2 Estate area of the state.

Describing the invasion as unwarranted and illegal, he said, “Investigation into the unwarranted incident is being carried out with a view to prosecuting any person found culpable. The Lagos State Government has the high regard for the rule of law and will protect the interests of all parties,” the statement read in part.

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