Residents of Journalists Estate Phase One and Beachland Estate in Arepo, in the Obafemi Owode Local Government Area of Ogun State, are at loggerheads over an access road connecting both estates.
While the Journalists Estate Residents Development Association (JERDA) erected a gate on the access road over security concerns, the Beachland Estate Residents Association (BERA) lamented that their neighbours prevented them from using the road.
JERDA, in a petition signed by its Chairman and General Secretary, Olufunke Fadugba and Toye Olori, respectively, and addressed to the state Governor, Dapo Abiodun, alleged that thugs on Tuesday invaded the estate and destroyed its property.
It alleged that the estate was facing constant threat and harassment from members of the Beachland Estate, in connivance with the Olu of Arepo, Oba Atanda Oyebi.
The petition read in part, “On Tuesday, February 8, 2022, over 50 BERA residents, led by one Mr Emmanuel, including some chiefs from the palace of the Olu of Arepo, invaded our estate and destroyed our entrance arc, located at the point of security access into our estate.
“After an initial discussion to prevent the destruction, it was jointly agreed to meet with the traditional ruler later in the day to discuss the issues and resolve the matter amicably.
“However, after a while, thugs, armed with cudgels, in the company of some chiefs and the said Emmanuel, came back from the palace of the Olu of Arepo, where they boasted to have received the order to destroy the arc installed by JERDA Phase 1 with millions of naira belonging to our members.
“They first set about the arc with axes and diggers to weaken the foundation and seeing that it was not budging, they then drove an Ayab truck over it to bring it down violently. The steel arc is a new one in replacement of the initial one that gave way for the road construction currently going on.
“It took a strong restraint of JERDA members and some elders on the estate, for the invasion not to degenerate into a full-blown skirmish.”
The estate said the new arc was constructed with the permission of the Wawa Police Station and the Ogun State Ministry of Works.
The association said the arc was destroyed because they did not “pay homage” to the traditional ruler, who claimed to be the final authority in the community.
“There has been an incessant attack on our estate by BERA members and the Olu of Arepo over the years and this has now turned to direct invasion and threat to lives, with the regular invasion of our estate by BERA members to directly compromise our security and officers,” the estate added.
At a meeting with officials of the Ogun State Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development, on Thursday, representatives of BERA said there was an order that all parties should maintain the status quo pending the completion of the road construction in the community.
The Chairman of BERA, Teyilase Atalabi, who was part of the meeting, said, “Our lawyer wrote to the permanent secretary that the matter was in court and we also told him that pending the determination of the case, let everybody stay status quo on the road.
A while ago, we discovered that there was some digging going on. Based on that, we wrote to the ministry informing them that the meeting we held earlier whereby we agreed on some aspects was not being complied with. The Wawa Police Station called us for a long meeting and they asked all the heads of communities to put heads together and revert to them on this same issue of access.
“After then, the Arepo Central Community Development Association Board of Trustees last Sunday invited us for another meeting where it was agreed that everybody should stay action. But the next day, we just saw the arc being erected.
“Whenever our visitors want to visit us, they’re always turned back at this gate; this is a government road, but journalists’ estate denies us the use of the road. I’ve been turned back on this road before.”
The Balogun of Arepo, Mukaila Oganla, also condemned the blockage of the road by JERDA.
He said, “Arepo sold land to people of Journalists and Beachland. We are not on anybody’s side, but what we want is that this only road that we have, nobody should block it; it has to be a thoroughfare from end to end.”
Responding to the parties, the Deputy Head of Department, Development Matters, Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development, Olayinka Oladimeji, urged all parties to maintain the status quo pending the completion of the Arepo road.
He said, “The bone of contention is this arc and in the last meeting we had in Abeokuta, we agreed that everybody should maintain the status quo pending the completion of the road construction. What should be our concern is the security of everybody and how to maintain oneness.
Let there be peace and love among the parties. There’s going to be another meeting with all parties, but I will like to appeal that all erecting of structures should be suspended for now.”
The traditional ruler, Oba Oyebi, did not take his calls or respond to a text message sent to his telephone line as of the time of filing this report.
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Union of Journalists has condemned the alleged invasion of the Journalists Estate.
The group, in a statement signed by its National Secretary, Shuaibu Leman, on Thursday, urged the state governor to identify and hold to account all the people involved in the act.