Members of the Orubo community in Ikenne local government area of Ogun state on Friday staged a peaceful protest over alleged invasion of their farmland by the state government.
They lamented that a large expanse of their farmland being at Iperu, along Iperu-Ilishan Road, Ogun State measuring approximately 136.070 Hectares has been taken over by government without any compensation
About 100 members of the community among whom were elderly men and women gathered at governor’s residence in Iperu, and from there marched to the disputed land carrying placards with various inscriptions.
Some of the inscriptions read ‘Governor Abiodun please come to our rescue’, ‘Our Land Is All We Have Left’, Governor Abiodun Respect Court Judgement”, “Ogun State Government Pay Us Compensation” ‘Our Support For Government Should Not Be a Curse to Us’, ‘Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development Respect Court Judgement’ among others.
Among the protesters are the head of Orubo family, Iperu Remo, Alhaji Waidi Alaka, Assistant head of the family, Mr. Neye Moibi, family secretary, Mr. Shobamowo Taiwo and Olumuyiwa Olayinka among others.
Speaking on behalf of the family, Alhaji Waidi Alaka alleged that there is an ongoing illegal clearance with caterpillar and stampeding planting of survey pillars on their family land for a proposed Cargo Airport by the Surveyor General of Ogun State.
He wondered why government desired to take over their land when no notice of revocation has been issued on any portion of Orubo farmland nor was any compensation paid as contained in Section 44 (1) (a) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, (as amended).
He said ‘’up to the time of issuing this statement, the government of Ogun State under Governor Gbenga Daniel or any other subsequent administrations of Ogun State never issued, nor served on Orubo family or any of its members any prior notice of revocation of our deemed statutory/customary right of occupancy on any part or portion of our Orubo farmland including the portions sold to the three Companies aforesaid for their alleged Cargo Airport as enacted by statutory law in Section 44 of the Land Use Act nor was any compensation paid as contained in Section 44 (1) (a) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, (as amended).
According to him, Orubo family’s progenitor named Odubiro who was a hunter and prominent leader of Lopere military society migrated from Ile-Ife as a refugee from slave traders and settled in the vast area of land as a hunter and private soldier and he successfully held and defended the eastern boundary of Iperu-Remo during the 19th Century Kutujen War of Iperu-Remo.
Alaka stated that the Orubo family had enjoyed ownership of the statutory and customary rights of occupancy on the farmland for centuries adding that part of the land was sold jointly to Beauty Fair Laboratories Nigeria Limited and Sophisticat Nigeria Limited and another 13.546 (33.473 Acres) to Skin Beauty Limited respectively.
Speaking, lawyer to the family, Mr. Babatunde Oshilaja said the family is in possession of the judgement of an Ogun state high court, delivered on October 10, 2011 by Justice N.I Saula in suit NO HCS/123/2002 Ope Osu & others Vs Jonathan Famodu & others which confirmed that the land being cleared belonged to Orubo family.
According to him, the judge had declared that from the totality of the evidence before the court, the Orubo family proved their entitlement to the farm land.
He added that Justice Saula in his judgment held that ‘’ no glaring evidence of government acquisition of the land in dispute was placed before the court. None of the defendant’s witnesses was able to produce the notice of revocation of the right to the land’’.
According to Oshilaja the Land Use Act vested all land compromised in the territory of each State (except land vested in the Federal government or its agencies) solely in the Governor of the State , who would hold such land in trust for the people and would henceforth be responsible for allocation of land in all urban areas to individuals resident in the State and to organisations for residential, agriculture, commercial and other purposes while similar powers will with respect to non urban areas are conferred on Local Governments”.
He however maintained that government can only acquire private lands if it is reasonably shown that the property is to be used for public purpose and as long as the property owner is compensated at fair market value.
He urged governor Abiodun to intervene in the matter and come to the rescue of the family.