By Abdulwahab Abdulah
Residents of Shasha Akowonjo, under the auspices of Landlords and Residents Association have sent a Save our Soul, SoS appeal to the Lagos State Governor, Mr Babatunde Fashola over what they described as an attempt by an agency of the state government to forcibly seize and demolish their structures in the name of building a market in the area.
The residents who spoke through their lawyer, Mr. L ekan Olaniyan said trouble began in the area when the traditional ruler of Shasha, Oba Nasiru Babatunde Lawal allegedly decided to acquire the large track of land under the guise of converting it into a market place without consulting the landlords in the area.
According to them, the Oba took it upon himself to approach government agencies in the state to come and acquire the over 40 plots of land by destroying the already developed residential and religious properties under the guise that the community would acquire it for market development.
However, Oba Lawal who according to the residents was at the centre of the crisis, denied ever having any personal interest in the take over of the area. He explained that he was only supporting the quest by the community to have a befitting market for the people.
“The disputed area was given out by the land owners to the government since 2007 for the development of market during the time of the late Oba of Shasha. The people who now occupy it illegally claim to have purchased it in spite of the fact that they knew that the whole area had been given out for the market project,” Oba Lawal alleged.
The embattled residents represented by Chief Sule Owolabi, Mr. Arogundade Dare, Mr. Stephen Atie and Mr. Toba Oduwaiye claimed that the rightful owner of the land, one Chief A. O. Aina had pleaded with the traditional ruler not to interfere with the said land and offered him an alternative land for the construction of the market but he refused.
However to ensure that the properties are taken over from them, they alleged that the traditional ruler personally led officials of the Lagos State Building Control Agency, LSBCA, to the area and issued them quit threats to vacate the land, in spite of the fact that the matter is in court.
One of the landlords who identified himself as Mr. Franklin Onuoha explained that they (landlords)approached the leader of the agency with the fact that the case is in court and that the status quo should be maintained. The LSBCA was reported to have said, “I don’t care if there is a matter in court. I will do anything I want to do and it is the same court that will resolve the issue”.
Continuing, Mr. Onuoha said: “don’t want anybody to incite the residents against the government. The problem we have presently is the Oba who is instigating the government against the people. We are peace loving people and we have resolved to seek the proper channel to address our plight, ” he said.
In their court action, the landlords joined the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice and the Lagos State Building Control Agency, LSBCA as defendants.
They are asking the court to declare that that the land in question which is situated at Boundary Road/Ologunfe Bus Stop, Shasha, Akowonjo and consist of about 30 buildings, originally belonged to Akinlawon Olaife Royal family who settled thereon from time immemorial were theirs, having purchased same from the rightful owners of the land.