Residents of Yegunda, Abomiti and Eyin-Osa development areas, in the Free Trade Zone, Epe, Lagos State, have lamented the invasion of their communities by suspected land grabbers.
The development areas/zones, made up of over 300 communities, were reportedly resettled on the land by the state government after they gave up their land for a state project.
PUNCH Metro gathered that the hoodlums, allegedly hired by one Ibile and one Otunba, stormed the communities on Saturday, July 16, to sack residents.
They were said to have set three thatched houses on fire, vandalise several buildings and injured residents, who were rushed to a hospital for treatment.
Our correspondent also learnt that the hoodlums stole rams and motorcycles as several people were dispossessed of their phones and money.
Pictures of the attack were seen by our correspondent.
On Wednesday, the council of chiefs, resettlement committee members and community youths took to the streets to protest the attack.
The Odofin of Epe and Chairman of Eyin-Osa Resettlement Committee, High Chief Olatunde Oluwo, said the land, measuring about 800 hectares, was statutorily awarded to them by the Lagos State Government.
He said, “The government acquired our land through global acquisition. They then gave us about 800 hectares as resettlement land for the three zones. We filed a Memorandum of Understanding with the government and they gave us Certificate-of-Occupancy to show that we are the statutory owner of the land. The C-of-O was written in the association’s name.”
Oluwo said the state ministry of energy recently gave a stop work order on illegal mining on the land.
The Chairman of the Abomiti Zone, Ayodele Olayinka, said the assailants were not registered with the resettlement committee and were unknown to the state government.
He said, “We do not have any dealings with them but they are trying to take our land. This land was given to us by the government. The government acquired over 8,000 hectares from us and gave us the C-of-O of 800 hectares this year.”
The protesters, who gathered at the Ilamija Junction, Epe, lamented the brutalisation and loss of property during the attack.
PUNCH Metro gathered that farmers who were sacked from their homes by the hoodlums had been unable to return to their farms.
The Secretary, Yegunda Zone, Sade Adeniyi, said residents were injured while others fled for safety.
“They held guns and cutlasses. The land is still not safe for us. We want the government to intervene. All we want is peace,” he added.
A woman leader in the area, Atinuke Adelakun, said, “We did not argue when the government gave us a small portion of what they took from us. But we cannot allow land grabbers to encroach on our land and beat our people. We and our children cannot work again.”
Some residents also told our correspondent that another attack happened on Tuesday, as residents were sacked from another part of the land.
The Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, Benjamin Hundeyin, promised to react after speaking with the Divisional Police Officer in the area.
He had yet to do so as of the time of filing this report.