Indigenes of Makun community in Sagamu, Sagamu local government area of Ogun State on Tuesday staged a peaceful protest at the Governor’s Office, Oke Mosan, Abeokuta, over alleged land grabbing activities by Oniraniken of Iraniken, Sagamu, Oba Adewale Adeniji accusing the traditional ruler of using land grabbers to forcefully take over about 4,500 hectares of farmland belonging to 14 Makun communities.
Some of the communities where Oba Adewale Adeniji was said to have used land grabbers to sack the people from their farmland are Okerala, Oko-Iwaju, Ipa, Idarika, Alawun, Simawa, Apena Seriki among others
The protesters were armed with placards with different inscriptions such as “We need justice in Makun Kingdom” “Gov. Dapo Abiodun save us from land grabbers” “Makun people need peace in our community”, “Oba Oniraniken leave us alone” among others.
Addressing journalists, their spokesperson, Alhaji Jamiu Alabi Olododo said the essence of the protest was to call on Governor Dapo Abiodun to prevail on Oniraniken, Oba Adewale Adeniji to desist from his alleged land grabbing activities in Makun communities.
Olododo said “for over a year now, the Oniraniken, Oba Adewale Adeniji had been using land grabbers to terrorize our people and chase them away from their farms. We have reported him to Ogun State House of Assembly as well as the Akarigbo of Remo land but he has not to desist from his illegality.
“Even last week, eight land grabbers working for the traditional ruler were arrested by police from the Force headquarters, Abuja. We want the government to set up a panel of enquiry to look at this issue and also caution Oba Adeniji to stop this crude means of acquiring what never belongs to him”.
Also speaking, the acting Secretary of the Ewusi-in-Council, Otunba Kayode Howells said “this land in question has for decades been homestead for the Makun people, but suddenly, Oba Adewale Adeniji said he got a judgment from somewhere; whereas the inhabitants of those areas he said he got judgment were not even informed about any court case”.
Otunba Howells urged Governor Abiodun to step in and form an independent judicial commission to investigate the claims of Makun community and that of Oniraniken with a view to establishing the truth.
Addressing the protesters, the State Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Hon Afolabi Afuape who was accompanied by the Special Adviser to the governor on Land Matters, Mr Aina Salami said a letter over the subject matter had been received and feedback will be given as soon as possible.
Afuape urged members of the communities not to take laws into their hands, but to continue to give peace a chance assuring that the government will dispassionately look into the matter and ensure that justice was served.
The Commissioner said ”Now that you have brought this issue to the notice of the government, be rest assured that the government will do justice to it. I also implore you to maintain peace as you go back home because no meaningful development could be achieved in a chaotic environment”.
Meanwhile, Oniraniken of Iraniken, Oba Adewale Adeniji while speaking with our Correspondent denied being a land grabber, insisting that he is a recognized traditional ruler in the country and that the farmland under dispute belongs to his Osoedu family as declared by the judgments of two Ogun State High Courts sitting in Sagamu in 2018 and January 2020.
Oba Adewale Adeniji said “rather than inciting people and causing crisis where there is none, once a court of competent jurisdiction gave a judgment on a matter, I think the right thing is to either abide by the judgment or seek for redress in a higher court.
“That’s what I expect those having interest over this family farmland should do and not be heating up polity through unnecessary protest. I equally request that Governor Abiodun should set up a Judicial panel of inquiry on this matter to get it resolved once and for all. The truth however remains that Makun people have no land whatsoever in all these communities” he submitted.
It could be recalled that Ogun State House of Assembly engaged the Oniraniken of Iranike, Oba Adewale Adeniji over petitions written against him by the Olumeru Adeyemi Sodiya Family land, Idarika Kaniyu Village through Agerige Village by Okerala farmland in Sagamu on alleged unlawful invasion of their parcels of land; thus ordered him to produce the survey plan on the said judgement within two weeks.
The Assembly through its Committee on Lands and Housing led by Hon. Damilola Soneye issued the order during a meeting which had in attendance, the Ewusi of Makun Sagamu, Oba Timothy Oyesola Akinsanya and Oba Adeniji as well as other concerned parties at the Assembly Complex, Oke- Mosan, Abeokuta.
The House Committee stressed the need for Oba Adeniji to provide the survey plan upon which the judgement was based for authentication by appropriate government agencies to assist the Committee to determine the areas covered by the said judgement; warning the monarch not to go beyond the two-week deadline, after failing to appear before the Committee on two previous invitations.
Soneye in company of other members including Honourables Kemi Oduwole, Solomon Osho, Abdul Bashir Oladunjoye, Yusuf Adejojo, Sola Adams, Atinuke Bello and Kunle Sobunkanla, also warned that the Assembly would not hesitate to recommend to the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs to invoke relevant sections of the State Chieftaincy Law as well as Anti-land grabbing Law, 2016 on anyone including traditional ruler(s) caught in the act of land grabbing and or forcible entry on landed property in the State.
The Chairman consequently directed Oba Adeniji, who was relying on a court judgment obtained in 2018, to desist from unlawful land occupation, adding that no one should threaten the peaceful co-existence of residents in the State under the guise of taking possession of landed property through an enforcement of court judgement.
Quoting the relevant provisions from the State Land Grabbing Law, Soneye cautioned that “any traditional ruler found aiding the activities of land grabbers/Ajagungbale to pose threat or unleash terror on the people shall also be treated as land grabbers/ajagunbale and be treated as such. Any person or authority including a Traditional Ruler found guilty of any offence in this section shall in addition to any punishment prescribed in this Law be liable to imposition of any other sanction, punishment, or liability that may be imposed by any other law including the Chiefs Law or any other Law for the time being in force.”
Also, the Lawmakers resolved a petition written by one Tunde Ologunde and Co against (the Oniraniken) Oba Adeniji on the allegation of forcible entry of landed property, received on January, 6th 2021, where the Lawmakers directed that all illegal occupants of Ipa Village farmland in Makun, Sagamu including one Wale Abiodun, should immediately vacate the village land and subsequently desist from conducting themselves in violent manner as Oba Adeniji had admitted before the House Committee that the judgement he obtained did not extend to Ipa Village, warning that anyone found to be disturbing the peace in the area would be dealt with according to the law.
In his remarks, the Ewusi of Makun Sagamu, Oba Timothy Oyesola Akinsanya, appealed to the Assemblymen to evoke relevant sections of the State Law to restore peace and save the residents of the affected areas from incessant harassment and intimidation by land grabbers, noting that he had confidence that the legislative arm would do justice on the matter.