By Cosmas Omegoh
A laterite mining company
Gbenga Ibuoye Nigeria Limited, the police and suspected land grabbers are emeshed in a controversy over a mining site located at Itele, Ado-Odo/Ota Local Government Area of Ogun State.
Whereas the mining company is alleging that land grabbers were invading its legitimately-acquired site, claiming that the facility belongs to them, the police who sealed off the facility said they were there to maintain the peace.
Addressing a news conference on Wednesday, the company’s spokesperson, Mohammed Owolabi, alleged tha the chaos inspired by some unscrupulous land grabbers, was aided by the Area Commander Mr Monday Agbonika.
He narrated how land grabbers had been invading the site since the beginning of the year, destroying properties and halting the company’s business activities.
“This is becoming intolerable and barbaric. The government should come to our aid and put a stop to this turmoil. We find it difficult to move around the site that was purchased on a legal ground because some unscrupulous elements empowered by Mr Monday Agbonika want to take forcibly posession of this site at all cost.
According to him, “we bought the land from these three families: Falola, Odunifa Faloun, and Gbadamosi Onigbeyin some years back with the intention to use the apportioned land for mining business owned by Alhaji Gbenga Ibuoye who has been in the business for the past 30 years. On citing the land, we went to the Attorney General’s office to confirm if there’s any issue or dispute over the land and we’re granted approval to go on with the purchase of the land with no issue at stake. We have our red copy from the Surveyor-General’s office. So, we bought 19 acres from the families having carried out adequate assessment to ascertain the authenticity of the land.
“As part of our agreement with the families, we graded an abandoned road (lying flat inside a swampy area about 30ft deep) linking Itele to Lafunwa town because the host community does not have access road unless it comes to Ota which usually takes about two hours to get out of the town. This was visibly achieved through our synergy with the Ministry of Works.
“But trouble started ever since we constructed the road; some land grabbers led by one Oluomo came to meet us that they’re the legitimate owners of the land without a proof of ownership.
“Following this incidence, the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development ordered that the mining site should be sealed and even granted us new license to operate on the said land but the Area Commander (Monday Agbonika) came there on the account that he was instructed to seal the place despite the fact that the Commissioner of Police knows about our lawful possession of the land,” he said.
Also, speaking on the issue, Daniel Oladitan, a resident in the area, urged Gov Abiodun to mediate as a matter of necessity, saying that the community never lack in terms of infrastructural develoment since the company took over the land for its mining business.
Mrs. Elizabeth Modupe, the spokesperson for the families, commended the humanitarian service of Alh. Gbenga Ibuoye, the CEO of Gbenga Ibuoye Nigeria Limited whom she described as a man of the people.
“We’re very happy with Alh. Gbenga Ibuoye. The three families of Falola, Odunifa Faloun and Gbadamosi Onigbeyin agreed to sell the land to him based on an agreement to do our road in order to create an enabling environment for us as community members. Also, to allow people come into our community and do business smoothly. To be candid, he’s been doing his good works as promised but these people (land grabbers) wouldn’t want him be. They refused to come to us but we only overhear them most of the time claiming they are the real owners of our land,” she said.
Earlier, some workers at the company’s site were seen protesting against the police stopping them from working on the land as many claim the action had really affected them financially.
Speaking with our reporter, one of the workers who don’t want to be mentioned urged government to act fast as the land grabbers were sponsored to frustrate their boss’ work.
Another worker who simply identified himself as Mr. Ahmed expressed sadness with the way the police were handling the matter.
“We don’t like how the police is handling this matter. How will they be using Paul to rub Peter and expecting the issue to be resolved? I think the Area Commander is not being fair with us.”
When contacted via telephone call, Mr Agbonika refused to speak on the allegation levied against him. He, however, referred our reporter to his Public Relations Officer who could reachable at press time.
Meanwhile, the Deputy Police Officer in the area, Unuigbe Monday who spoke on behalf of the force confirmed the ACP instructed that they should not allow work to commence yet at the mining site until the matter was resolved between the different warring parties.
“We are here to maintain peace. I actually got an order from the Area Commander to be here to stop work on the site so as to avoid an uproar pending the time the matter will be settled amicably between both parties,” he said.