Popular Nigerian Lawyer, Esq. Monday Ubani has called for intervention from the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, over the activities of some unscrupulous land grabbers, who, in connivance with the State Agencies, were alleged to have invaded a piece of land belonging to his client Mr Idahosa Osa.
According to a statement released by Ubani, trouble started a few months ago when some hoodlums led by one “Engr.” Abiodun Ariori, joined by some land grabbers, invaded the said piece of land at No. 1 Folorunsho Kuku Street, Off Agbaoku, Opebi, with a claim to possessing a “Certificate of Occupancy” obtained since 1989.
Ubani stated that the role of Abiodun Ariori in the masterminding of the invasion on the land was revealed to him through a Mobile Police Personnel under whose cover they carried out the terrible act.
He said, “I reported the matter to the Nigerian Police Force and they were arrested. When asked why they invaded the land of someone else, Mr Abiodun Ariori started to brandish a purported Supreme Court judgement that was delivered since 1990.
“I sought and obtained the judgement and found out that the judgement has nothing to do with the said land in question. The judgement was in respect of a piece of property in Onigbagbon Area of Ikeja where Eko Hospital is presently situated. My client’s land is at 1 Folorunsho Kuku Street, Off Agbaoku that is several kilometres away from the said land in Onigbagbon with a certificate of occupancy obtained in 1989. Besides, if it is a judgement of court they came to enforce, they ought to use the Court Sheriffs and officials for the enforcement and not thugs and men of Mopol”, Ubani disclosed in his statement.
Ubani believes there is a conspiracy between the Abiodun Ariori, the land grabbers and some personnel of the Lagos State Agencies to manipulate the due process in other to claim the land from his client illegally; noting a court injunction on the property was completely ignored by them.
He said, “Since it is a land matter, I advised myself that court action will be appropriate. I sued and joined all the people that claimed that they were enforcing a Supreme Court judgement by invading the land. They were duly served personally and by substituted means. When they refused to appear or respond to the claims and reliefs of my client, the court granted an injunction against them. The injunction was also served and pasted on the property. The suit No is ID/6199/LMW/2020.
“Up till now that I am typing this piece, Mr Abiodun Ariori and his gang of land grabbers have refused to file any response to the claim. Rather they have been boasting that they own Lagos and that they were the ones that installed the present government and they will teach the owner of the land that they own everybody here in Lagos”, he lamented.
The statement reads further,
“A week ago, we woke up to see and hear that allegedly Ministry of Transport and Environment came to paste Notice that the mechanics who are there legitimately at the instance of the owner should vacate there within 48 Hours. We have pictures of the Notice posted on all the cars and the property by the Ministry of Transport”.
“I immediately called the Commissioner of Transport, Lagos, a perfect gentleman who picked my call and asked that investigation be conducted on who in his ministry was behind it. I later found out that one Hon Fayinka in the Ministry of Transport was working with the land grabbers to take over the land illegitimately. I say this because I put a call across to the said Hon Fayinka and he boasted to me that they are coming to take over the land very soon as they are acting on instructions from higher quarters.
I immediately wrote to the Commissioner of Transport and copied his Permanent Secretary of what the Ministry was about to do. I am yet to receive a response to the letter as I have evidence that it was delivered”.
“Today being the 31st of December 2020 I received a call from the Mechanics on-site that Lagos State Officials from the Governor’s Office, Enforcement Unit invaded the land with caterpillars, trucks, towing vans and over 150 police officials and thugs and beat and arrested everyone on site. They beat those mechanics to stupor, arrested them and put them in Black Maria and set out to tow all the vehicles away to Alausa. They used the caterpillar to destroy everything on-site, pulled down some erected structures therein and padlocked the place. In fact, as I type all the vehicles are at Alausa in the Ministry of Transport”.
“To compound the case they came with the land grabbers who were boasting that they have taught the owner a lesson that they own Lagos and they are about to start building on the land despite the court order”.
“I have spoken to the Commissioners of Transport Hon Oladeinde and Environment, gentleman Mr Tunji Bello who has all denied knowledge of the invasion”.
“I have also spoken to the Chairman of Lagos State Task Force who is also apparently not aware of this illegal operation of using state apparatus to carry out the personal ambition of notorious land grabbers”.
“Presently they have padlocked the private property and ensure thugs are hanging around with dangerous weapons to harm anyone that wants to enter into the property. All the vehicles have been towed to Lagos State Ministry of Transport”.
Hon Abiodun Ariori, while responding to questions from a StarMedia Renaissance reporter during a phone conversation, denied all allegations by the lawyer. He claimed the removal of the mechanics from the said venue was a legal action taken by the State Government and not personally influenced. He insisted that the land takeover was executed by a legally constituted bailiff.
He stated, “I don’t have the power to take over the place without the deputy sheriff. Since he (Ubani) is aware the case is at the court, what stops him from waiting for the court’s decision rather than spreading wrong information about”? “The land belongs to us and we have all the necessary documents to reclaim our land”, he declared.
In another conversation, Hon Fayinka, while responding to questions from our reporter, repudiated the allegation against him by the lawyer. He claimed, contrary to the statement posited by Ubani, that there was no time during their phone conversation that he boasted of coming to take over the said land, neither does he have any interest in it.
He said, “I challenge him (Ubani) to a public interview to explain to the whole public why he is involving my name in this matter”. I became a member of Lagos state public service barely one year ago. This couldn’t have been 1989 or 1990. If this case has been running since 1989, why would he attach my name to it?
“Before man and God Almighty, I do not believe I know the site in question and I do not believe I ever authored any service to that place. If I did, I must have done it in fulfilment of my schedule”, Fayinka stated.
Meanwhile, Barrister Ubani during a conversation with StarMedia Renaissance hinted that the some OPC members alongside some thugs were brought to the troubled land on Thursday to take over the property and were set to commence an illegal construction on it having used the State Agencies to gain an “undue advantage over a matter that is in court”.
He called on the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu to wade in his support and stop the menace of such “few bad elements in the state that are so bent on destroying what Lagos State the Center of Excellence stands for”.