Image caption: Inauguration of the Oyo State Anti-Land Grabbing Task Force in September 2022 in Ibadan
Land grabbing allegations in Surulere LG: Human rights group appeals for Oyo govt intervention
The Save the Poor and Needy Charity Initiative (SPANCI), a human rights and charity organization based in Ogbomoso, Oyo state with presence in other states, has petitioned the Oyo state government and the Inspector General of Police among other authorities over what it described as the excessiveness of the Nigeria Police Force Ogbomoso Area Command and the Amotekun Corps in matters of land grabbing in Surelere local government area of the state specifically Iresaadu (headquarters of the local government) and Iresaapa.
The organization in a press release signed by its president, Comrade (Dr.) Bello Yemi Ezekiel JP, and made available to newsmen wondered why the police would dabble into the case in contravention of the establishment of the Anti-Land Grabbing and Real Property Protection Task Force, which it noted is vested with jurisdiction on such matter.
It alleged the police of bias asserting further that the involvement of the area command smacked of bias against the the victims of Iresaadu land grabbing whom it said had earlier filed the case with the Anti-Land Grabbing and Real Property Protection Task Force for investigation and adjudication.
SPANCI explained it was after the case was filed with the task force and the defendants had appeared that the latter now used the police to arrest and unlawfully detain the appellants.
It said a similar case in Iresaapa also saw the victims being arrested, handcuffed and detained illegally because the “land grabbers” reported first.
Noting the alleged actions by the police could lead to breakdown of law and order appealed to the Oyo state governor, Engr. Seyi Makinde, Oyo State House of Assembly, the Judiciary, chairman of Anti-Land Grabbing and Real Property Protection Task Force – Justice Aiki, the Inspector General of Police, the Oyo State Commissioner of Police, the State Commissioner for Justice and the Attorney General to “intervene in the matter in the interest of justice and fair hearing to avoid miscarriage of justice.”
The petition in full:
Owode Area Command police rubbished Oyo State Anti-land Grabbing and Real Property Protection Task Force, takes jurisdiction on a matters before her
We are Save the Poor and Needy Charity Initiative ( SPANCI), a human rights and charity organization based in Ogbomoso, Oyo state and other states.
Let me appreciate Governor Seyi Makinde, and the Oyo State House of Assembly for the establishment of the Oyo State Anti-Land Grabbing and Real Property Protection Task Force, the chairman of the body and the entire taskforce members, the Nigeria Police Force and other law enforcement agencies incorporated into the taskforce for doing credible work and fighting against land grabbing and land grabbers in Oyo state.
We are bringing to the general public and notifying the Oyo state government, House of Assembly, the Judiciary, chairman of Anti-Land Grabbing and Real Property Protection Taskforce and the Inspector General of Police the unbecoming and unprofessional conduct of some men of Owode Area Command Ogbomoso which is in gross violation of the intent of the founding of the Oyo State Anti-land Grabbing and Real Property Protection Task Force, this is aside assuming jurisdiction on a matter that should have been referred to the task force..
There is this particular case in Iresaadu, headquarters of Surulere local government, in which some people called “Mode Iresa” are alleged of land grabbing, unlawfully claiming ownership of land in five villages viz: Araromi, Areago (Fejajiyan), Olosan, Abepe and Alagbon. These Mode Iresa who included Prince Oladipupo John, Prince Oyebisi Oyeniran, Prince Tunwagun Oyelami, Prince Oyewumi Oyeniran, Fowomola Oyedepo, Jibade Tunwagun, Chief James Olawale (Bara Aresaadu), Chief Areo Oluremi (Ikolaba Aresaadu), Pastor Isaiah Abioye, Mr. Adesoye (Baba Eko) have however been taken to the Oyo State Anti-Land Grabbing and Real Property Protection Task Force for investigations following a petition filed by Chief Adebayo Oluponmile (Otunba Aresaadu), Mr. Jimoh Amoo and Mr. Sakariyat Akanji sometimes in February this year.
The petitioners stated that the people mentioned lied that the State Government and Federal Government were the ones who requested for the land to build school and that one serving commissioner then who is from Iresaadu had given his consent. These people brazenly left their own land and came to claim another person’s land where there are so many economic trees which the owners depend on for their livelihood and other uses. The anti-land grabbing task force consequently invited them for the purpose of investigation. However, they showed up only twice, following which they threatened the petitioners in my presence as they came out of the office. Subsequently, they refused to appear on other adjournment dates. Several attacks were made on the petitioners which were reported at Iresaadu Police Division, but they told the petitioners that the police lack jurisdiction on land matters especially one before the Anti-Land Grabbing and Real Property Protection Task Force.
To our surprise nonetheless the alleged went to the petitioners’ land with surveyor and some Amotekun personnel from Iresaadu division to survey the land. The petitioners said they now challenged them on the pending case before Anti-Land Grabbing and Real Property Protection Task Force which they have been shunning and why they go ahead to forcefully encroach on their land. It was further alleged that some Amotekun personnel some of whom are closely related to the alleged land grabbers living in Iresaadu at this point came out fully to support the alleged and during one of their raids one of them forcefully took a cutlass that one of the petitioners was using in his farm which he tagged as exhibit. After, some of the Amotekun men told the petitioners to allow the grabbers to measure the land. Later, the petitioners said they were invited by the men of Owode Police Area Command. I personally called the Area Commander who to me is a man of high integrity and credibility. I told him the origin of the matter and that those petitioners before him are alleged land grabbers and that they shunned Anti-land Grabbing Task Force in Ibadan because they are bent on forcefully grabbing the land. I advised him to send them to the task force for lack of jurisdiction and to avoid bias. When he was affirming he had jurisdiction I told him the past CP told us police lack jurisdiction on matters pending before the task force which is headed by my Lord Honourable Justice AIKI, assisted by DC who is his superior but to my surprise they detained three of the men who had earlier petitioned the anti-land grabbing task force in favour of the alleged land grabbers. They also forced their Otun in the presence of their lawyer to write undertaking to bring the ten people whose names they wrote on paper for him the following day and the lawyer told Otun to write it.
By this act, the men of the Owode Area Command Ogbomoso rubbished the Anti-land Grabbing Task Force of the state despite the fact that I spoke with the Area Commander on phone and made him understand the law of jurisdiction and jurisprudence and my involvement in the matter from the start and also sent the copies of the initial petition which was available to them. This action was a rude shock to me.
Second misapplication of power
The following day of the above matter in which the police unlawfully locked up alleged victims of land grabbing another set of people from Owode family in Iresaapa area also in Surulere local government came to report what they tagged the bias of the men of Owode Area Command again to me. They alleged them of supporting a pastor who allegedly bought their land from one of their subjects who had been paying them tributes and homage. They said they leased the said land to the man for farming but later unlawfully and forcefully grabbed the land which he now sold to the pastor. They disclosed the man is laying claim to certain acres of land which he forcefully entered. They said the police unlawfully removed their family land signboard/post from it and took it to Owode Area Command headquarters which they now tagged as exhibit.They added the men of Owode Area Command came to arrest two persons, Mr. Oladunni Adio and Mr Tunde Adio, of the real land owner family, after chasing them away when they went to plant crops; they said they put handcuffs on them and made them look like common criminals as people looked at them embarrassingly. They further informed that the men of the Owode Area Command told them to write an undertaking that they would leave the land for the pastor and not go to their land again and disturb the pastor if they don’t want to go to court and be jailed, hence, they should come back on Tuesday probably for arraignment in court..
Our belief is that the police lack jurisdiction on such matter and it is wrong and an unprofessional conduct on their side to punish the innocent in favour of the land grabbers moreover when they had not carried out proper investigations. We also believe that they lack jurisdiction on a matter before the STATE TASK FORCE ON ANTI-LAND GRABBING AND REAL PROPERTY PROTECTION.
We also believe that the men of Owode Area Command Ogbomoso are bias and conspiring with the alleged and using the Amotekun as witness to make sure the innocent go to jail. That their act is also perversion, prevention, obstruction and defeat of cause of justice.
That it is also an act of denial of fair hearing, deprivation of right to personal liberty, inhumane and degrading treatment which is also detrimental to their image by handcuffing them like hardened criminal on civil matter which unsatisfied members should have gone to court to fight for civil claims.
We hereby want His Excellency Engineer Abiodun Oluseyi Makinde, the chairman of the Oyo State Anti-land Grabbing and Real Property Protection Task Force, Honourable Justice AIKI, the state Commissioner of Police, the Inspector General of Police, the State Commissioner for Justice and Attorney General to intervene in this matter in the interest of justice and fair hearing to avoid miscarriage of justice and breach of peace and breakdown of law and order which may result from self help in Ogbomoso land.
Comrade (Dr.) Bello Yemi Ezekiel JP