A Laterite mining firm – Gbenga Ibuoye Nigeria Limited has called on the Ogun State government and Nigerians for help over the repeated cases of attacks by some sponsored criminals on their mining site located at Itele, Ado-Odo/Ota Local Government Area of Ogun State.
The company alleges a determined move by some elements that are believed to be hiding under the cloak of some “powerful individuals” to oppress the owner of the mining company to forcibly take over his rightful possession.
Speaking to journalists during a press briefing on Wednesday, the company’s spokesperson, Mr Ajibola Ololade, complained that the nefarious activities of some unscrupulous individuals who tag themselves as land grabbers believed to have been empowered by the Sango Ota Area Commander, Monday Agbonika, is posing great challenge and dangers to the smooth running of the operation of the firm.
Describing their ordeal to pressmen, Ajibola stated that the company has been facing serious invasions and attacks from the Land grabbers since the beginning of this year, stating that “the business has been put on hold on several occasions, and even company’s properties destroyed during some of these muggings”.
Responding to questions from journalists, the company owner, Alhaji Ibrahim Gbenga Ibuoye, who says he has been in the business for the past 30 years, explained that he bought the said land purposed for his mining business years back from these three families, Gbadamosi Onigbeyin, Odunifa Faloun, and Falola.
Ibuoye disclosed that he ensured a detailed inquiry to affirm the land’s authenticity and obtainability, even up to the Attorney General’s office was done. He said he purchased 19 acres of land from the 3 families having obtained a red copy from the office of the Surveyor-General.
“But the trouble started when I embarked on a rehabilitation project for the host community as part of an agreement reached with the three families, to grade an abandoned road completely buried in a swampy area of about 30 feet deep, and linking Itele to Lafunwa town due to its inaccessibility, a project which I completed in synergy with the Ministry of Works. Some land grabbers led by one Kabiru Oluomo, Nuru Adeoye and others suddenly surfaced out of the blues to challenge our rights over the land, claiming to be the legitimate owner even without a proof to justify such claims”. He said.
Alhaji Ibuoye explained that in the midst of the heated scuffle spurred by the said Oluomo who he (Ibuoye) claimed at some point forcefully occupied the land to carry out illegal mining activities, the Ministry of Mine and Steel Development (MMSD) had to intervene by sealing off the place and granting him (Ibuoye) a new license to commence operation on the said land. But this he said was met with another precarious hurdle as the Police Area Commander, Monday Agbonika, was alleged to have made their smooth run of operations difficult through incessant harassment, arrests and threats.
“By the time I wanted to take over the place again, I went with two of the legitimate landowners who also possessed an appeal court judgement certifying their true ownership of the whole Itele land, this police Area Commander (Monday) still came to harass us there,” Ibuoye said.
He cited an occasion in which the Area Commander invited him for a meeting with the State Police Commissioner, but on getting to the meeting venue, he realized he had been deceived as to the Area Commander instantly placed him on detention without any justification and threatened to charge him to court.
“Everybody knows the land was sold to me, even the Ogun State Commissioner of Police is aware that I am legally licensed to mine on the land, but these land grabbers especially Kabiru Oluomo, are still disturbing me using the police and military men to harass me”. He lamented.
“I want Nigerians and the government to help me, particularly concerning this Sango-Ota Area Commander” He pleaded.
Also, speaking on the issue, Mrs Elizabeth Shogbande, a spokesperson and head of the Falola family, commended Alhaji Ibuoye for the works he has done. She said, “Before selling the land to him, we all agreed that he would have to grade our road, a task which he did successfully”. Mrs Elizabeth maintained that they are the only one with full rights to sell the land, and warned those portraying themselves as the owners to desist henceforth.
Meanwhile, workers of the Gbenga Ibuoye Nigeria Limited on Wednesday staged a protest at the mining site to express their utmost displeasure over the continuous closure of business activities as allegedly ordered by the Area Commander Monday Agbonika.
Speaking to journalists, a worker, who craved anonymity, called on the state government to intervene on the matter. He said another closure of the quarry site was enforced by the police on Tuesday on the order of the Area Commander. He lamented the incessant attacks they face from the land grabbers who portray themselves as being above the law.
Another worker who identified himself as Odi Ejiro says he prays they are allowed to start work immediately as the situation is already affecting their daily income.
The Divisional Police Officer, Itele Division, Uhigbee Monday, while speaking to reporters, confirmed the closure of the mining site on the order of the Area Commander pending a conflict resolution by the warring parties.
When contacted on phone, the Public Relations Officer to the Sango-Ota Area Commander denied knowledge of the issue but promised to provide answers to our enquiries as soon as he gets the full details.