Residents of Gateway Zone Estate, in the Magodo GRA Phase 1 area of Lagos State, have lamented the continuous encroachment on their estate by suspected land grabbers bent on building residential houses on a gorge behind the estate.
We had reported that no fewer than 30 land grabbers recently invaded the estate with a bulldozer and demolished a fence to create an access road to construct residential buildings on the gorge.
Against the directive of the executive arm of the state government that building on the gorge was illegal, the residents alleged that the land grabbers’ actions were backed by the Lagos State House of Assembly.
During the encroachment, the residents informed the Isheri Police Station, used their vehicles to prevent the bulldozer from leaving the premises and arrested the operator for damaging their property.
Other accomplices fled, as the residents handed the suspect to the police.
It was learnt that the Lagos State Police Command was about to charge operator of the bulldozer to court when it received a signal to transfer the case to the Zone 2 Police Command.
Reacting to the development, residents held a protest on Wednesday to express their grievances, saying they were neglected by the state government.
The residents carried placards with different inscriptions depicting their grievances.
Addressing journalists, the Chairman-elect of the estate, Ayo Fasugba, said a legal document was obtained from the New Town Development Authority to fence the border of the estate to protect lives and property.
He said, “Recently, residents woke up to discover that a bulldozer came in under the pretext that they were part of the construction work going on and within minutes, we saw that a portion of our fence had been pulled down. That action got us angry.
“There is only one access gate in and out of this estate. Before now, hoodlums invaded our estate to attack us. I was once a victim; my family was attacked and the hoodlums took away my car and my property some years back.
“On that premise, we approached the NTDA that if the government would not fix the perimeter fence, we were ready to fix it. We were granted a letter to fix the fence and we did it, including the road, all of which was done through the efforts of residents.
“But the land grabbers disguised themselves to say they were bringing a tractor to the construction site on the estate, deceived our security guards, came into the estate and pulled down our fence. The meaning of this is that we are exposed to the same danger we were running away from.”
Fasugba, who lamented the lack of support from the state government, said the land grabbers kept saying their actions were backed by the Lagos State House of Assembly.
“We have written to various agencies of the government, but we are not getting enough support. Even at the office of the Commissioner of Police at Ikeja, they said they had documents to construct a road through this place from the Lagos State House of Assembly.
To the best of our knowledge, the House of Assembly is not saddled with the responsibility of approving roads; so, we expect more support from the executive arm. We need the government to make a statement,” he added.
One of the protesters, Gbenga Shodeinde, urged the state government to come to the aid of the residents.
He said, “We are calling the government based on the approvals that we got from NTDA and land bureau, to walk the talk and ensure that they stop all such indiscriminate buildings and activities around this zone.”
Another resident, Hannah Oyebanjo, said, “We have lived in peace and tranquillity until recently that this encroachment issue started.
“The impact is negative, especially on women and children in this community. We believe the state Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, stands for our protection. We need him to come to our aid.”
A member of the Ojoko family claiming ownership of the wetland, Tunde Balogun, said the family had government approval for the project.
“The whole place is for Ojoko; it was the government that collected the land from us and allocated it to the people living here,” he added.
Speaking on the demolished fence and building on the gorge, Balogun said, “This is the extension of the land, but when erosion spoiled the road, we planned to reconstruct it. But they were the ones that blocked the road.
“This is our land; it has been sold. The people that bought this place are now angry that they can’t get to where their land is, so we have to look for a way for them to get to their land.
“There is government approval; I cannot say more than that. But they said they collected documents to block this place; I don’t believe so.”
Asked if he was aware that the government said building on the wetland was illegal, he said, “I am not aware.”