Following the allegations by a lawyer, who raised the alarm over what he called the illegal invasion and forceful occupation of some landed property in Ikeja area of Lagos by land grabbers allegedly working with officials of Lagos State Government, a spokesman of the government, Engr Abiodun Arori, has debunked the report.
Recall there was pandemonium in Monkey Village, around Opebi, Lagos on Thursday, December 31 2020, as a team allegedly from the Lagos State Taskforce moved into the community and demolished some residents’ houses.
The lawyer in a publication that went viral alleged that the demolition was masterminded by Engr Ariori with the support of the state’s Ministry of Transport and Environment.
However, adducing the reasons for the demolition yesterday, Engr Ariori told journalists during a press briefing in Lagos: “We have been in possession of the said land (Opebi) for more than 20 years. About six months ago, while trying to erect some structures on the land, we found out that some mechanics have taken over the place and we reported them to Zone II for which they were all arrested. That was when we met the lawyer, who came to facilitate their bail and ordered them back to the land that has Supreme Court’s verdict backing us. Since we have been trying to work on that land and he (lawyer) have been using police to frustrate our efforts.
“So, our lawyer wrote a petition to the Attorney General of the State to assist on the issue. Based on that, the Lagos State Government carried out a further investigation on the matter. Meanwhile, before then, the people of the community had written the state government to eject the miscreants from the land as a result of their criminal activities, leading to the state government action of December 31 last year.”
“I was surprised then, when the lawyer started attacking me, calling me several names on social media. Even if I acted illegally as he as been saying, is he saying that the government also did not do the right thing? Does this action mean that we are not the true owners of the land? He claimed to have an injunction on the land of which I am not aware but can any injunction supersede Supreme Court judgement? I’m only here to state that I am not a land grabber. We have all our necessary documents to back up this fact of ownership.”
Corroborating Ariori, his counsel, Barr Francis Monye dismissed the lawyer’s claims as ‘lacking merit’ and ‘unethical’.
He said: “We have legal documents backing us on that portion of land. My client was engaged by a judgement creditor (the Meadows). The Meadow family are the owners of the land. They are not natives, they bought that land.
They bought approximately 13 acres. So, you would see from the documents we have that they’ve been deprived access to that land by trespassers. However, the Meadows got judgement in their favour while the trespassers appealed the judgement but lost. They still went further to the Apex court which upheld ruling from the lower courts and declared the Meadows as the rightful owner of the land. So, the issue of ownership of the land has been long closed.
“So, what my client approached the state to do based on the instructions he got from the Meadow family was to see how they can carry out the precedents laid by the Meadow family. My client is neither a land grabber nor a law breaker.. He went through court processes and we have various documents testifying to it that he spent money on legal processes and got judgement.”
When contacted for his reaction, the lawyer, via a telephone call to Vanguard said he is currently in touch with the state government on the issue.