Fresh Crisis Threatens Ogun Cargo Airport, Community Demands Compensation

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· Lament violation of Land Use Act

Tobi Soniyi

Fresh crisis erupted at the weekend over the 136.070 hectares of land the Ogun State Government acquired from the Orubo Family of Iperu- Remo, Ikenne Local Government Area, Ogun State to build cargo airport without compensation.

The family, owners of the 136.070 hectares being developed for Cargo Airport, noted that the action of the state government utterly breached Section 44 of the Land Use Act and Section 44 (1) (a) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, (as amended).

Hundreds of family members expressed these concerns at the country home of Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun in Iperu on Friday while peacefully protesting acquisition of their land without compensation.

The land in dispute is a large expanse of farmland lying and being at Iperu, along Iperu-Ilishan Road, Ogun State measuring approximately 136.070 Hectares (336.2 Acres) including 9.674 Hectares (23.90 Acres).

Led by the head of the family, Alhaji Waidi Alaka, members of the community among whom were elderly men and women besieged the governor’s residence in Iperu as early as 7.00 a.m. and from there, marched to the disputed land carrying placards with various inscriptions.

Among others, some of the inscriptions read thus: “Governor Abiodun please come to our rescue; Our Land Is All We Have Left; Our Support For Government Should Not Be a Curse to Us and ‘Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development Respect Court Judgement.”

The protesting family members, also, exhibited a copy of an Ogun State High Court judgment which they said declared them the rightful owners of the land.

Other members of the family that participated in the protest were Assistant Head of the Family, Mr. Neye Moibi, Family Secretary, Mr. Shobamowo Taiwo and Olumuyiwa Olayinka among others.

Speaking during the protest, Alaka asked the Abiodun administration to comply with the provisions of the Land Use Act, 1979 and the 1999 Constitution.

On this ground, Alaka called on the state government to compensate the family members in line with the Section 44 of the Land Use Act.

While they were not against acquiring their land for the airport, the head of the family said they deserved to be compensated as stipulated in the Act and Constitution.

Alaka, who read a prepared speech at the airport site, alleged that there was an ongoing illegal clearance with caterpillars and stampeding planting of survey pillars on their family land for the cargo airport by the Surveyor General of Ogun State.

He wondered why government desired to take over their land when no notice of revocation had been issued on any portion of the farmland nor was any compensation paid as mandated by 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 Ogun State government under the administration of Otunba 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 farmland.

The family had sold some portions of the land to three companies namely
Beauty Fair Laboratories Nigeria Limited and Sophisticat Nigeria Limited and another 13.546 (33.473 Acres) to Skin Beauty Limited .

“Also, such notice was not issued on the portions sold to the three companies aforesaid 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.

According to him, after the sale of portions of the Orubo farmland to the three companies, the head of Orubo family on May 21, 1999 executed a Certificate of Surrender of a Deemed Right of Occupancy in favour of the companies and same was approved by then Permanent Secretary/Director General Bureau of Lands, Survey and Town Planning.

Besides, he 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 confirmed that the land being cleared belonged to Orubo family.

The court had declared that from the totality of the evidence before the court, the plaintiffs proved their entitlement to a deemed land of occupancy over the land Orubo farm being Iperu along Iperu Ilishan road.

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.”

The family urged governor Abiodun to intervene in the matter and come to their rescue.

Counsel to the family, Mr Babatunde Oshilaja commended members of the family for conducting themselves peacefully even as he advised them to shun any action that could cause a breach of the law.