-Settlement under siege for two days
-Several people wounded, properties worth millions destroyed
-Resettled residents, ijede calls for fencing, government’s white paper
Over 20 years ago, the Federal Government acquired large acres of land in Ijede suburb of Ikorodu in Lagos State to build a thermal electricity power generating plant that would serve the entire nation. But years after the land acquisition by the Federal Government, peace have eluded the residents whose lands were acquired and had been earlier relocated to another land by the government.
These residents that have been relocated from their ancestral land have continuously faced inhuman treatments of harassments and destruction of their properties from neighbouring community.
The Iponmi/Ipakan Federal Government Resettlement residents are now calling both the State and Federal Government to ensure the protection of their rights as guaranteed by United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria both which affirmed their rights to life, liberty and security of persons among others.
The residents who have lived between Egbin and Ijede, both of Ijede
Local Council Development Area since their resettlement in the present location over twenty years ago have in recent time faced with incessant violence, a situation they claimed started with the installation of Oba Akeem Oyebo as ruler of Egbin Kingdom in 2010.
Iponmi and Ipakan residents who claimed that by traditional and history they are not subjected to Egbin, alleged that since the installation of Obateru who was the first Oba of the small kingdom, he has attempted to forcefully bring them under his reign against the existing tradition in which they are subjects of Ijede.
Chief Julius Baraka, Baale Iponmi in an interview with The IMPACT, said, “We have been resettled at this present location for over twenty years and we have lived as brothers and sisters with our Ijede neighbours until recently when Obateru of Egbin was installed in 2010. I was his first victim because within two weeks of his reign he led thugs to invade my house and it was Ijede police that came to my rescue that very night and we petitioned the Commissioner of Police through my
lawyer. But due to interventions of elders, that matter was settled. It was after that that he also caused the boundary crisis between Ijede and Egbin.”
Narrating their ordeals recently, Chief Baraka alleged that his community was attacked again on the orders of Oba Akeem Oyebo who encroached into its territory despite all warnings by the Lagos State House of Assembly panel headed by the deputy Speaker, Hon. Kolawole Taiwo and the State’s Police Command.
IMPACT gathered that based on a petition, the Lagos State House of Assembly, all the community stakeholders including Iponmi, Ipakan, Ijede and Egbin were invited to appear before the House panel on February 4, 2014 and after listening to all sides, the house committee warned against any act that may cause breach of peace.
The House, IMPACT reliably gathered, warned both Ijede and Egbin to respect the special status of Iponmi and Ipakan people. When Egbin, as we gathered submitted that its Eluku festival will be held and upon which Iponmi and Ipakan’s raised objection and insisted that such festival should be restricted to Egbin land, the House relying on Justice Abiru’s pronouncement against Egbin over the land, enjoined Obateru to perform the festival within his kingdom.
The parties were also summoned to a State Security meeting by the Honourable Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs at the State Police Command, where same issue was the point of discussion and same warning was issued.
Mr Olatoyinbo Olusegun, the secretary of Baraka family and Iponmi community told The IMPACT that there has been ceaseless attacks, banditry and assaults on Iponmi and Ipakan resettlement people by people of Egbin ever since Oba Oyebo was installed.
“Since the installation of Obateru, we have been subjected to rounds of attack at every quarter over the ownership of the resettlement land which a court presided over by Justice Abiru has entered judgment on the side of the resettlement people’, Said Mr Olusegun.
“We were summoned by the House based on the petition written by Egbin alleging that Ijede colluded with resettlement people over their property which is not. The Assembly panel was headed by Deputy Speaker, Hon. Kolawole Taiwo with Hon. Masha and others as members. At the meeting, Honourable Commissioner for Lands even testified that resettlement people have right over the land and there is no need for the attacks”, Baraka and Iponmi Secretary added.
Against all these warnings and appeal, Chief Baraka alleged that Egbin encroached on his land with its traditionalists on the order of the Kabiyesi and his objection led to two days attacks on him and his subjects with several houses destroyed, properties carted away and many left with serious injuries.
According to Chief Baraka, “Contrary to what we agreed in our meetings with Assembly and Lagos State Police Command at a meeting chaired by Deputy Commissioner of Police, on Saturday, 3rd April, 2014, I was in front of my house when I saw women in white traditional garment processing into Iponmi from Egbin and I stopped them. After enquiring from them why they are processing into my land against the warnings and directive that Egbin should perform all traditional rites within its land. My insistence made some of the women called Kabiyesi on phone to report my action to him that I have prevented them from entering Iponmi.”
He added that he quickly alerted the DPO who asked him to come down to the station for debriefing and on his way he saw some thugs from Egbin attacking Iponmi people and properties but was able to escape to police station.
The Baale of Iponmi also explained that while with the DPO, calls were put through to Oba Oyebo by the DPO to remind and warn him about holding his festival within Egbin, but refused all entreaties by the police officer. Unknown to the DPO and Chief Baraka, fresh rounds of mayhem will still be unleash same day.
“Around 11pm when I was relaxing outside with my brothers (one of who was badly injured), some thugs from Egbin attacked us led by Segun Oyebo, Idowu Abass, Fashola, Afeex Mojeed and other three were well known to me. They are the same that came earlier in the day and also led
others during the night mayhem. They entered our land shooting sporadically and asking for the Baale. I called the DPO who came that midnight with his men and was able to chase the hoodlums away”, said Chief Baraka.
That night, the DPO we gathered also put call through to Oba Oyebo to complain the allege criminal activities of his men which made his personal assistant and some Egbin people joined the DPO to ascertain what had happened at Iponmi. That very night ,the injured were taken to the police station for debriefing.
While the six arrested were still been held at the police station for arraignment in court, another attack was unleashed on Iponmi to force the withdrawal of charges against those arrested from Egbin. The third attack came around 5pm on Monday 5th April, 2014.
Chief Baraka also narrated the experience to The IMPACT, “While the six arrested were been prepared to be charged, another set of thugs attacked Iponmi for the third time in three days on Monday afternoon. This is the greatest of all the attacks. They destroyed our properties, carted away our goods and inflicted injuries on my people. They carted away my wife’s jewelries and phone. While running away from their chase, I ran my car into a fence and escaped by whisker to the station.”
‘Every part of Ijede land knew that we were attacked on that Monday and the leader of the Monday assault was one Wewe,
(nickname). Also Morufu, Nojeem and the Egbin sand miners/dredging chairman among others led the Monday attack. The attack was very serious because the attackers from Egbin were over 200. The patrol van that came from the Ijede police station was shot at before the arrival of the men of the RRS and Nigeria military force who brought the situation under control and provided us with security”.
The Regent and Olisa of Ijede, High Chief Alliu Musediku who also spoke with The IMPACT confirmed the two separate meetings and the warnings given by the Police authorities for Egbin to restrict its festival within Egbin. He also added that he was informed of the present situation which led to breakdown of law and order and he has ordered his subjects in Ijede not to be involved.
“I was informed about the crisis and since the matter has been reported to the police, I have asked my subjects in Ijede not to be involved in the matter in any way”, said the Regent.
When asked about the way out of the persistent crisis, High Chief Musediku stated that the government should release White Paper on the Panel of Enquiry and do proper boundary adjustment in the area, while the Baale of Iponmi and Secretary of Baraka Family and Iponmi community in separate interviews also enjoined the government to as a matter of urgency issue White Paper and in addition, the secretary requested that the Resettlement people should be protected
from further attacks by fencing the resettlement area round.
Among victims of the attacks are Mr Glory Elisha, Mrs Ibukun Elijah, Mr Sesan Olatoyibo, Mr Olatoyibo Friday, Mr Adio Sanmi Owopeebijo and over 80years old Pa Elisa Owopeebijo. Pa Owopeebijo who was unable to speak when our reporter visited was said to have been beaten into coma and still nursing wounds on the leg and neck with his house destroyed.
Elisa Omotunde Owopeebijo who also spoke with our reporter said his room was ransacked with documents carted away and his wife’s shop was vandalized.
Meanwhile, six suspects arrested for the recent attacks on Iponmi have been arraigned in Ikorodu Magistrate Court in case Charge No FC/IKD/06/2014 and remanded in Ikoyi Prison on two count charges, of assault on Glory Elisha and Ibukun Elijah by using stones and cutlass on them whereby causing severe injuries on their faces and right legs and other parts of their bodies whereby committing an offence contrary to and punishable under section 171 of the Criminal Code law of lagos State of Nigeria 2011. Two, that the suspects did willfully and maliciously damaged house glasses valued at N1, 200, 000 of property belonging to Chief Baraka Julius hereby committing an offence punishable under 337 of Criminal Law of Lagos State of Nigeria 2011.
“THERE IS GRAND DESIGN TO IMPLICATE OBATERU”
– Mr. Shina, Personal Assistant to Oba Akeem Oriyomi
Mr Shina Ishola, the Personal Assistant to Oba Akeem Oriyomi, the Obateru of Egbin land has described allegations of attack on Iponmi and other cases of criminalities as grand designs orchestrated to implicate Obateru.
In an interview with our reporter, Mr Shina stated that, “All the allegations against Kabiyesi Obateru are false and calculated attempt to paint him as bad man, but he is a very progressive king with good ideas to take Egbin, through small to greater height which will be envy of all.”
He asserted that Iponmi and Ipakan were resettlement on Egbin lands and they cannot claim ownership, “How can Ipakan and Iponmi claim ownership of the land they were
settled upon? They were settled the same way Ajegunle flood victims were settled at Agbowa and they cannot claim ownership because it is not their land. In fact, the White Paper issued by the government after the panel of enquiry has warned those parading themselves as Baales (Chiefs) to desist. The original Ipakan and Iponmi have gone into extinction and these people were only resettled on Egbin land. On this land that they were claiming ownership, there have been houses built by Egbin people on the lands long before they were resettled. It will also interest you to know that Egbin has some of its shrines within these communities that has been there for ages and which further show our ownership”,
While reacting to the High Court’s judgment presided over by Hon. Justice Abiru which pronounced Iponmi and Ipakan as owners of the land in question, Mr Shina called it ‘fraud’ which will be upturned by Appeal Court, “The purported High court judgment was fraudulently obtained and the case is on appeal and I have no doubt that Appeal court will prove that it was a fraud.”
Mr Shina who did not deny the attacks on Iponmi , was of the opinion that the six suspects facing trial were innocent of the charges. “How can anybody claim that he can identify his attackers in the darkness? Aside that, those arrested were innocent and were picked in their homes after attending late night party the previous day. The case is now in court and I’m sure that the court will exonerate them.”
In his tracing of the cause of the persistent crisis between Ijede, Ipakan and Iponmi on one side and Egbin on the other hand, Obateru’s Personal Assistant accused Ijede’s treatment of Egbin as an area within the traditional/political arrangement as responsible for the continuous crisis, “The major cause of problem is Ijede seeing Egbin as an area in the council, rather, Egbin is an autonomous kingdom with an Oba and independent of Ijede. The earlier Ijede starts treating Egbin as such, the better.”
He reinstated his perception that there is grand design against the Obateru of Egbin land when he queried the manner the Assistant Commissioner of Police allegedly
threatened HRH Oba Akeem Oyebo during the security meeting with stakeholders in Ijede LCDA, ” There is orchestrated design to make kabiyesi appear as the person that is creating problems, if not why did the Commissioner of Police (Assistant) brag that kabiyesi will be held responsible if there is any outbreak of violence? HRH Oba Oyebo is a peace-loving monarch that has good intention in developing his area and there is no how he can achieve that if he is the one perpetrating violence. So, there is no connection between what he is been alleged to be doing and his good intentions”, Mr Shina clarified.
When IMPACT asked the Personal Assistant to Egbin monarch about the state of the murder case upon which he was arrested and charged last year, he said, “You find out yourself, but for your information, the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) has given his position to the court that HRH Oba Akeem Oyebo is not culpable and there is no more case against him. This is because all that happened were orchestrated by people who do not like his progressive nature. This is an Oba that wants to take his small kingdom from nothing to a place where no other town has been before, and he is going about it with zeal and youthful vigour. We expect opposition, but we shall always triumph”, declare the Personal Assistant to Oba Oyebo.
Mr Shina did not conclude the short interview with IMPACT without asking the state government to do what he considered the right thing by implementing the White Paper on the Panel of Enquiry set up last year. “Government too is part of the problem because they have refused to do what is required and now that a White Paper has been issued let’s see if they will implement all the recommendations. This White Paper has recognized the ownership of the land upon which these people are resettled as that of Egbin and that they cannot claim Baaleship over it. We are awaiting its implementation.