For the displaced residents of Foweseje Community, in Lakowe, Ibeju-Lekki, Lagos state, Nigeria, this is indeed a trying time.
The residents are alleging violation of court order and illegal demolition of their over 600 houses in their community.
They fingered unnamed agents of an unidentified organization as claiming ownership of their lands.
Ajenifuwa Victor, chairman, Akpowenre Okiemute, secretary, Odum Paul, and Emeka Azubike, an official of the community alleged that the issue on the demolition of their property is before the court.
The officials wondered why the defendants in the case have taken the laws into their hand in defiant to court order.
The complainant in suit No.ID/794/2011 is seeking an order returning their lands to the original owners and payment of compensation of N18 billion for damages done to their properties.
Over 600 buildings were demolished contrary to an earlier court order restraining both parties to stay action pending the determination of the case.
The residents of the community cried to the Lagos state government for help over the ‘Illegal’ mass demolition of their buildings by agents of an organization.
The community wondered how a company that was registered in 2003 with a C of O the same year claim ownership of the land that had been long in existence.
It has been a long drawn legal tussle between the community and the organisation as far back as 2011 and the case was recently transferred to Epe High Court and scheduled for June 26, 2019, before the organisation allegedly invaded the community with thugs to demolish houses.
“All the court proceedings were attended by lawyers of the organisation and the judge had earlier ruled that all parties should maintain status quo pending the determination of the case.”
Fowoseje residents gave names of the leaders of the thugs who carried out the alleged destruction of their community as Prince Banjoko Muraina, Chairman of Threeco Construction Company Limited, said to be a contractor to Toll System Development Company Limited, Alhaji Mutairu Owoeye and Ganiyu Owoeye A.K.A Gaba.
Chief Nojeem Fatai Arimi Ojomu, Adisa Fatai Ojomu and seven others who are claimants in the case alleged that the defendant is acting in concert with the defendants powerful connection and instruments of ARM Investment Company Limited and entered into Fowoseje village and bulldozed their buildings /properties and traditional enclaves and economic tree of the claimants without any court order or order or judgment.
The claimant’s said the defendants used their powerful connections and continued to terrorise the them thereby subjecting them to continuous agony and threatening through their officials to come and demolish the entire Fowoseje village and the building that were still on the land.
The claimants averred that the conduct of the defendants has inflicted adverse, untold and unimaginable trauma, hardship and misery on the claimants and other land owners and occupier of Fowosho village land.
The Bale of Fowoseje Chief Nojeem Fatai Ojomu in his letter signed on January 17, 2012 to the Chairman Adhoc Committee, titled Fowoseje Land Matter and addressed to the House of Assembly Complex, Governor’s office, Alausa had appealed for mercy by releasing their land to them so as to continue living on their ancestral land.
According to him, ” Fowoseje was and has never been seen as a controversial land, therefore it belongs exclusively to us and our family as an estate of inheritance.
We and our family are customary owners of Fowoseje village, and the land through our ancestors, have been exercising diverse and undisturbed act of ownership including cultivating some portion of the land without any challenge from anybody.
“Due to our friendliness and unalloyed accommodation to strangers, we have in the past assigned a large portion of our land to various people who have built houses on their respective land. And they are living in there with their families.
“Therefore, we are the customary owners of Fowoseje village and at no time we diverted our title and our ancestor’s home or land known as Fowoseje Village to anyone or group.
“To our surprise, we discovered that one Toll System Development Company Limited which is a subsidiary of A.R.M. Investment Limited, floated by some ‘powerful individuals’ invaded our land.
“Consequently, upon this, we discovered that Toll System Development Company has been offering/selling our land at Foweseje Village as much as N3, 300,000 per 450 square meters per plot.
“As if that is not enough, on October 9, 2010 the Toll System Development Company Limited with the powerful connections and instrumentality of ARM entered into our land and bulldozed buildings/properties and traditional edifices and all our means of livelihood.
The residents of Fowoseje however seek court’s protection against the illegal demolition of their houses by the said company.
Earlier, the community has instituted a suit against the company, asking the court to grant an order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendants, their agents, provides and assigns from further interfering with the possession of the claimants building at Fowoseje Village in Ibeju Lekki Local Government Council Area of Lagos.
The community has also asked the court to order the defendants to pay a total sum of N18 billion against the 2nd defendant for the destruction and demolition of the claimants buildings.
The case has however been transferred to Epe High Court and scheduled for June 26, 2019.