Residents of Etegbin in Oto-Awori council area of Lagos State on Wednesday cried out over the recent invasion of the riverine community by suspected hoodlums who claimed they were acting on a court order to repossess land in the area.
The residents told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Etegbin that the hoodlums, armed with dangerous weapons, on Friday damaged several buildings and burnt tyres at different locations, forcing residents to remain indoors.
At the main Jetty in the town, about six flying boats belonging to residents were destroyed, while some lifejackets were burnt at the waterside.
Mr Gbadebo Oluwadamilare, a resident, said that the hoodlums came in through Oke-Era, chanting songs that the land owners had come to take back their land.
“They manhandled our fathers and mothers, even students were prevented from going to school.
“The hoodlums came in with dane guns and axes, destroying houses, shops and forcing many hotels to close down.
“They entered shops demanding for money and stealing their wares.
“Since Friday, I have not been able to go home, I am staying inside my shop because they are everywhere, at every junction,” he said.
Also, Mr Olawole Olaniyi, a lecturer at Lagos State University and an indigene of Etegbin, said the situation was disheartening.
“As I am speaking to you, my family is out of the town. My father’s house has been demolished, the hoodlums are sleeping in his house.
“All tenants’ rooms were burgled and valuables taken away.
“The situation is so serious that the Baale of this community was humiliated, he was brought out of his palace and beaten mercilessly.
“I have to come in with heavy security operative to pick my father out of the community and he is in hospital receiving treatment.
“Peoples’ businesses were damaged, the situation is terrible,” he said.
Mrs Titilayo Ayuba, a vegetable seller at the Etegbin market, said that the hoodlums chased away traders with cutlasses, destroying shops.
She appealed to the Lagos State Government to station security operatives in the town, adding that their lives were in danger.
Also speaking, a retired naval officer, Mr Olabode Atere, said that his neighbour had been locked out of his residence by the hoodlums since Friday.
According to him, we are confused because we saw policemen with them.
“The police should not have allowed them to destroy houses and shops,” he said.
Responding, Mr Ganiyu Asamu, representative of the land owners, said that there was a court order empowering them to repossess the land in the area.
“There is no crisis, no problem at all in Etegbin. We are not disturbing anybody for now.
“The land owners will soon invite the landlords and residents to a peaceful meeting and they will tell them what to do,” he said
On the barricade made by the hoodlums, Asamu said that it was done to check the influx of criminals into the community.
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The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu had sent a high-powered delegation led by the Commissioner for Local Government and Community Affairs, Dr Wale Hammed, for an on the spot assessment of the situation.
Pastor Cornelius Ojelabi, Chairman, Lagos State Chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who was part of the delegation, said Gov. Sanwo-Olu, had intervened to prevent a breakdown of law and order in the riverine community.
Ojelabi said the governor had invited both parties to resolve the matter amicably so that peace could reign in the community and appealed to the residents to maintain law and order in Etegbin.
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