March 8, 2019

Deaf students protest acquisition of land by Oyo govt

Rice farm

…No basis for protest — GOVT

By Ola Ajayi

IBADAN—ABOUT 150 students, workers and teachers of the Christian Mission School for the Deaf in Ibadan again protested alleged forceful acquisition of their 39-acre land by the Oyo State Government.

•Ikot Esen Rice nursery in Akwa Ibom State

File: Farmland

The hearing-impaired students, who stormed the land located on Lagos-Ibadan expressway in about six long commercial vehicles, were mumbling some incoherent words and displaying placards with different inscriptions pleading with the Oyo State Government led by Governor Abiola Ajimobi not to add to their problems with the alleged acquisition of the land.

Some of the inscriptions read, If you can’t help us, don’t add to our problems; We also have rights to education and Sports; Our land is for the first university for the deaf in Africa; Please, do not oppress the deaf; We are also Nigerians, don’t cheat on us; We want our land for technical and vocational support for the poo,r deaf and several others.

Speaking on behalf of the hearing impaired students and their teachers, Mr Solomon Fasanya, Technical Supervisor for Andrew Foster Christian Mission School for the Deaf, who spoke with an interpreter, Miss Joseph Julianah, said the school bought the acres of land in 2004.

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Fasanya said: “The government told us that the land has fallen into acquisition area. Since 2016, we have been writing to the government to consider our condition and look elsewhere for land. What we are saying is that if government wants to acquire part of the land, we should sit down together to discuss. We have tried to meet the government but they have not deemed it fit to invite us for dialogue. We want the government to incorporate us into the land it has acquired.”

“In July, 2018, we demonstrated and the Commissioner for Lands said the government had released the land for us. But to our surprise, the government wrote a letter to us that they would get four hectares. Our land was bought for educational purpose. Government should please have mercy on us and not compound our problem.”

The Principal of the school, Mr. Johnson Olalekan said their present school at Onireke is too small for them.

Olalekan  said: “We have issues with a lot of our students who graduated from our school. Majority of them don’t learn further after their secondary education. This informed the purchase of the land. It is just for educational purpose. We want to develop this place so that we can have more space for our students”, he explained.

Also, a student from the school, Mr. Sulaiman Shuaib, Health Prefect and Elder Anifowose Omolayo, who graduated from the school in 1968 said it was difficult for him to further education but he had to travel abroad to American University before he could get university education.

No basis for the protest — Oyo govt

When contacted, the Oyo State Commissioner for Lands and Housing, Mr. Isaac Omodewu said: “On the land, the issue predates the current administration in Oyo State. The land was acquired by former Governor Rasheed Ladoja in 2006.

“When the issue came to the attention of Governor Abiola Ajimobi, he felt it would be unfair to acquire their land without compensation or replacing the acquired land, he therefore directed the Ministry of Lands to give them another land around the same area, the size of which is equivalent to what was acquired from them.

“A letter to this effect was, therefore, given to them by the Ministry. There is, therefore, no basis for the protest. If they have an issue, the Ministry is always ready to listen to them.”