From Laide Raheem, Abeokuta
Scores of residents of Makun Community in Sagamu, Ogun State, on Tuesday, stormed the Governor’s Office in Oke Mosan, Abeokuta, to protest the alleged land grabbing activities of a traditional ruler, the Oniraniken of Iraniken, Sagamu, Oba Adewale Adeniji.
The protesters, who bore placards with various inscriptions such as ‘Governor Abiodun save us from Oniraniken’, ‘Makun land’ is under the siege of land grabbers’ and ‘We say no to Ajagungbale’, among others, accused the native ruler of using land grabbers to forcibly take over about 4,500 hectares of farmland belonging to 14 Makun communities.
They listed Okerala, Oko-Iwaju, Ipa, Idarika, Alawun, Simawa, Apena Seriki as some of the communities whose farmlands had been taken over by Oba Adeniji.
They later submitted their letter of protest and petition to the office of the Special Adviser on Land Matters to the Governor.
Speaking to newsmen, the spokesperson of Makun Community, Jamiu Alabi Olododo, said the essence of the protest was to call on Governor Dapo Abiodun to prevail on Oniraniken to desist from his land grabbing activities in Makun and the adjoining communities.
‘For over a year now, the Oniraniken, Oba Adewale Adeniji had been using land grabbers to terrorise our people and chase them away from their farms. We have reported him to Ogun State House of Assembly as well as the Akarigbo of Remoland, but he has desisted from this illegality,’ Olododo said.
‘Even last week, eight land grabbers working for the traditional ruler were arrested by the police from the Force headquarters, Abuja. We want the government to set up a panel of enquiry to look at this issue and also caution Oba Adeniji to stop this crude means of acquiring what never belonged to him.’
Also speaking at the protest, the Acting Secretary of the Ewusi-in-Council, Kayode Howells, said: ‘This land in question has for decades been the homestead for the Makun people, but suddenly Oba Adeniji said he got judgement from somewhere, whereas the inhabitants of those areas he said he got judgement ovet were not even informed about any court case.’
Howells urged the state governor to step in and form an independent judicial commission to investigate the claims of Makun community and that of Oniraniken with a view to establishing the truth.
Addressing the protesters, the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Afolabi Afuape, who was accompanied by the Special Adviser to the Governor on Land Matters, Aina Salami, informed them that their letter over the subject matter had been received and feedback will be given as soon as possible.
Afuape urged members of the community not to take laws into their hands but to continue to give peace a chance, assuring that the state government will dispassionately look into the matter and ensure that justice was served.
‘Now that you have brought this issue to the notice of the government, be rest assured that the government will do justice to it. I also implore you to maintain peace as you go back home because no meaningful development or progress could be achieved in a chaotic environment,’ the commissioner stated.
Reached for comment, the Oniraniken, who spoke to our correspondent on phone, denied being a land-grabber.
He said that the farmland under dispute belonged to his Osoedu Family as declared by the judgements of two Ogun State High Courts sitting in Sagamu in 2018 and January 2020.
‘Rather than inciting people and causing crisis where there is none, once a court of competent jurisdiction gives a judgement on a matter, I think the right thing is to either abide by such judgement or seek for redress in a higher court.
‘That’s what I expect those having interest over this family farmland should do and not to be heating up polity through unnecessary protest. I equally request that Governor Dapo Abiodun should set up judicial panel of inquiry on this matter to get it resolved once and for all. The truth however remains that Makun people have no land whatsoever in all these communities,’ he stated.