By Clifford Ndujihe
To prevent another disaster in the Ejigbo area of Lagos, the indigenes, under the banner of Ejigbo Indigenes Forum, EIF, have appealed to the Federal and Lagos State governments to allow them access to their sacred places of worship in the area.
Lack of access to the sacred places – Odo Ogbe, Odo Ipa and Odo-Osun streams, they said, accounted for the January 28, 1992 military airplane crash at Ejigbo canal and the drowning of thousands of people at Odo-AfaÂ following the January 27, 2002 bomb blasts in Lagos.
The indigenes made the appeal in a 12-paragraph letter to the Lagos State Council for Arts and Culture by the Abore of Ejigbo, Chief Monsuru Saula, entitled: â€œDeprivation of Access to Cultural Heritage, Monument and Sacred Places of Worship: Request for Intervention.â€
According to them, the denial of access to the sacred areas started in 1982, and since then a disaster occurred every 10 years, fearing that another one might occur in 2012.
â€œThis act, which has brutalised our collective psychic in traditional religious matters, began in the 70s when the Nigeria Airport Authority, NAA began the construction of the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, MMIA…NAA carved out three streams namely Odo-Ogbe, Odo-Ipa, and Odo-Osun as part of the Airportâ€™s territory. However, few years after the airport was declared opened officially on 15 March 1979, NAA began fencing the land, thus debarring us access to these streams.â€
Recalling their past appeals to the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture in April and June 1987 to intervene, which were not granted, they opined that denying them access to the streams to perform their spiritual rites led to the tragic events of 1992 and 2002.
Urging that the MMIA should carve out the portion where these streams were located, they said: â€œAs you may have noticed the foregoing events occurred at an interval of 10 years. The beginning of this could be traced to 1982 when the Airport Authority initiated and executed the idea of fencing the streams. By our calculation, another round of 10 years is fast approaching. This will come in January 2012. As this year approaches, our hearts throb in fear.â€