A Civil Society group, Human Rights Monitoring Agenda (HURMA) has called for the immediate suspension of the Lagos state Commissioner for Commerce, Industry & Cooperatives, (Mrs.) Lola Akande from office pending outcome of a proposed investigation on the ongoing land crisis in Epe which involved communities like Eyin-Ola, Abomiti and Yeguda.
The name of the commissioner among other influential individuals are mentioned in the letters both to the governor’s office and as well to the Speaker of Lagos State House of Assembly.
The petition titled :
“Conspiracy to Unlawfully Dispossess Legitimate and Rightful Beneficiaries of Eyin-Osa, Abomiti and Yeguda Resettlement Land in Epe by some Traditional Rulers in Connivance with Officials of Lagos State Government” explains the pains and agony in which members of the affected communities are presently into and calls for urgent government intervention to prevent further anguish.
Members of the affected communities had earlier sent an SOS to the Human Rights Monitors for urgent intervention where it was claimed that they have sent same to the Lagos state governor.
The letter addressed to the Executive Director of HURMA stated that:
“It is no longer news that Lagos State Government acquired our land, for the purpose of Free Trade Zone. As a result of the acquisition of our land, the state government resettled the displaced communities under the umbrella of Free Zone Parcel B Resettlement communities, of which we are members of the 248 communities that formed Abomiti, Yeguda & Eyin-Osa.
“Sequel to the resettlement, a memorandum of understanding was executed with the representatives of the communities, and the same was signed by the Lagos State Government, and the representatives of the committee.
“However, most of those who signed as representatives are protégé of Lola Akande, Oba Olusegun, and Oba Animashaun. In furtherance of the memorandum of understanding, for the resettlement of the displaced communities, the state government instructed the committee to register themselves, so that their certificate of occupancy can be issued to them in their names. Oba Olusegun, who ported himself as a registered surveyor to the committee, and recently referred to himself as the consultant to the Lagos state government, claiming to be fronting for some officers of the Lagos State government parastatal, wherein the officers want two (2) per acres to settle some of the officials of the Lagos State government through which the committee registered in proxy.
“However, going through the trustees in each of the zone supervised by the Oba Olusegun Awokoya, it’s clearly shown that most of the registered trustees are not even indigenous members of the committee but rather close associates of Oba Olusegun and that of the Oloja of Epe, particularly one Jelili Oluwaseyi Arimi, who is a trustee on both the Eyin-Osa, and Yeguda resettlement zone, one of the militants of the said Oba Onirete, and doesn’t belong to any of the displaced communities that were settled. So, it amazes one how someone that doesn’t belong to a community became a trustee in the registration of such communities.
“For a clearer understanding of our point sir, almost all the members in the committees are Oba Olusegun and Oba Kamarudeen’s proxy, the person of Chief Jelili Arimi Oluwaseyi, who is the Baale Deesa at Abule Foli, close to Eti-Osa not in any way related to parcel B resettlement committee. He is one of the armed militants of Oba Olusegun, he’s also a trustee of all the zones.
At the collection of the letter, the Human Rights office advised all members of the affected communities to remain law abiding and permit all offices involved to investigate and act according to law.
HURMA’s letter to both Mr. Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu and the Hon. Speaker of Lagos Assembly reads in part:
“We wish to alert the Executive Governor of Lagos State of the grand conspiracy by some influential individuals to unlawfully dispossess legitimate and rightful beneficiaries Eyin-Oa, Abomiti and Yeguda of their family inheritance following Lagos State Government Resettlement Scheme in Epe.
“We are therefore imploring the Governor of Lagos State to investigate the involvement of some traditional rulers in Epe and officials of Lagos State with vested interest including a member of State Executive Council⁴ in the ongoing scam. The intervention of the Mr. Governor has become pertinent in view of the desperation of these entrenched individuals to trample on the rights of legitimate beneficiaries of laudable land resettlement initiative of the Lagos State Government in the affected communities of Eyin-Oa, Abomiti and Yeguda in Epe.
“We are not unaware that a letter of appeal has earlier been forwarded to the Office of the Executive Governor to covey the plight of the legitimate beneficiaries and to seek necessary and timely intervention of Lagos State Government. This Petition has however become imperative in view of desperation by a few powerful individuals exploring the machineries of Lagos State Government to encroach on the rights of legitimate beneficiaries of the affected indigenous communities of Epe.
“The plot to undermine the rights of the legitimate beneficiaries of the said land is allegedly spearheaded by Oba Olusegun Awokoya in concert with Honourable (Mrs.) Lola Akande; the Lagos State Commissioner of Commerce, Industry & Cooperatives. In spite protests including a Letter of Appeal forwarded to the Office of the Governor of Lagos State as well as the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Cooperatives, the perpetrators of the unlawful acquisition are unrelenting in their desire to defraud and dispossess the legitimate beneficiaries of their inheritance.
“We are aware that the said land falls within Parcel B Lekki Free Zone for which Lagos State conceived a resettlement plan to take care of the interest of affected communities and families. It is however instructive to note that those conspiring to unlawfully acquire and transact business supposedly on behalf of legitimate beneficiaries are interlopers with no mandate from recognised members of the 248 communities that constitute Eyin-Osa, Abomiti & Yeguda under the Lagos State Resettlement Scheme.
“We call on the Governor of Lagos State to investigate the unlawful activities of these highly placed individuals who untoward desire poses threats to the land resettlement initiative of Lagos State Government. More importantly, immediate and holistic intervention of Mr. Governor is urgently required to forestall denial of rights of legitimate beneficiaries as vested by a subsisting Memorandum of Understanding initiated and duly recognised by Lagos State Government.
“We call on Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu to suspend the Honourable Commissioner of Commerce, Industry & Cooperatives, (Mrs.) Lola Akande from office forthwith pending outcome of investigation. The suspension of the Honourable Commissioner has become desirable as her continued stay in office will impede thorough investigation and findings in the interest of truth and justice.
“We implore Mr. Governor to act promptly to prevent immediate and consequential damages to the rights of legitimate and rightful beneficiaries in the affected communities of Eyin-Oa, Abomiti and Yeguda in Epe in the interest of justice, peace and humanity. More so, we demand adequate provision on security to some executive of the affected communities whose lives presently under threat and this include the Coordinator of HURMA in Epe, Comrade Mrs. Khadijat Apena among others.
“We thank your Excellency for his anticipated prompt action in line with the cherished commitment of his administration to pro-people governance”.