Hundreds of landlords, community leaders and business owners on Thursday marched to the Lagos State House of Assembly to protest against a purported Supreme Court judgement which awarded the Agidingbi area to a family.
The protesters, who said they were not aware of the suit, threatened mayhem if the state government did not intervene and stop execution of the ruling. More than 2,000 buildings were reported to have been affected by the judgement, including major industrial and media companies in the area.
The protesters said the judgment creditor had already given them seven days to quit their buildings, failing which their houses would be demolished. The leader of the Ojodu legislative arm, Wasiu Bolaji-Seidu, who is also a community leader in Agidingbi, said the news of the order came to the community as a surprise.
He said, “Last Friday, they brought a judgment and pasted it on our houses. They said they have taken over the entire Agidingbi. The issue is, Agidingbi was not mentioned in the judgment; nobody from Agidingbi was part of the case. “This community has been in existence for over 200 years. I was born and bred there; my forefathers lived in Agidingbi and I don’t see any reason why some people will just wake up and say they are the owners of the community.
“I am over 50 years old; my father lived for over 90 years before he died. My great grandfather died at the age of 150 and I don’t know where Akinole-Osun is coming from. We have people like Habibatu Mogaji, who was the Yeye-Oba of Agidingbi. We have Femi Okunnu, who is our father in the community and we don’t know where Akinole-Osun came from.”
The Eletu of Agidingbi, Chief Makanjuola Isola, said he observed that the people laying claim to the community were accompanied by a court official and policemen.
He said, “I initially took those posting the notice as hoodlums. But we were surprised that they were accompanied by a court bailiff and security agents. When I called the Commissioner of Police, he spoke to them and they withdrew.
“But if the police start accompanying such people, then there may be more to it. They had already given us a seven-day notice to quit, which expired today (Thursday). That was why we decided to ask the House of Assembly what we should do. When they return, should we defend ourselves or leave the community for them?”
A youth leader, Musemiu Yusuf, said there might be bloodshed if the government did not act fast on the matter. Yusuf noted that the notice had already raised tension, adding that residents were ready to defend their property.
“If the youth decided to fight back, there will be war. Today (Thursday) is the seventh day of the notice they gave us. They said they would come to demolish our houses. If they touch a fence, people will die,” he added. The Baale of Agidingbi, Chief Ganiyu Haruna, appealed to the state Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, to intervene.
He said, “We have never had any relationship with this family and so it is surprising to us. Nobody knew anything about the court case. How can you enforce a court judgment against a party that was never part of the case?
We are peaceful people and we are urging the Lagos State Government and the House of Assembly to intervene in this matter because we don’t want bloodshed in our community.”
The Deputy Majority Leader of the Assembly, Olumuyiwa Jimoh, who received the protesters, commended them for being orderly. While receiving a letter from the group, he assured that the House would look into the matter.
“Let me assure you that we are going to look into your petition without any fear or favour and I can assure you also that you will receive justice at the end of the day,” Jimoh said.
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