When Alhaji Gbenga Ibuoye, owner of a Laterite Mining Firm in Ota area of Ogun State, embarked on construction of a massive road network linking Itele, Feru, Oguntedo and Lafenwa community together, residents and members of the community were thrown into great joy and appreciation, as the project contributed hugely to positively impacting their lives as well as making businesses quite easy for them.
But, little did they know that their joy would be short-lived as community sources disclosed that the project which reportedly gulped millions of naira was targeted by hoodlums believed to be working in connivance with some top members of the Nigeria Police Force who were said to have seriously vandalized the road thereby making it completely unusable.
A visit by our reporter to the scene of the development on Thursday revealed, beyond the picture painted, the determined and desperate height of destruction melted to the road. Our findings revealed a very deep hole of over 30 feet dug in 3 different parts of the road linking Lafenwa to Feru to create a large demarcation that makes it completely unusable. The pitiable condition on the vandalized road is also worsened by water formation induced by some damaged pipelines.
Eyewitnesses claimed to have seen at least 60 fully armed police officers standing guard while a heavy-duty Tractor was deployed to vandalize and delineate the road linking Feru to Lafenwa on Wednesday at about 6 pm.
Lamenting before journalists on the current state of their once cherished road, some residents and community leaders, who pointed accusing fingers at the Divisional Police Officer of the Itele Division, Uhigbee Monday, the new Area Commander of the Sango Ota Police Division, ACP Muyideen Oke, and the Assistant Inspector General of Police, Zone 2 Ahmed Ilyasu, expressed their utmost displeasure over the attitude of those involved. They claim the mentioned police officers have turned themselves into destructive tools used by some criminals and land grabbers led by one Kazeem Ajiboye Oluomo and Abraham Idowu Akanle to incessantly invade a Laterite mining site owned by one Alhaji Gbenga Ibuoye to grab the property from him.
“This is pure wickedness!! How could people be this callous? I know how much this road has helped us and made life easy for us, but how do we cope with this kind of act. To connect to Itele through this route usually takes us less than 15 minutes, now we have to seek alternative routes that take nothing less than 3 hours journey” A community member decried.
Another source who identified himself as Lateef of OdunIfa family spoke, “This is a road that the man Ibuoye singlehandedly fixed for benefit of the entire community, but the Police are backing some thugs to frustrate his efforts. Now they brought Caterpillar to vandalize it and even burst some underground pipes which are causing the water spillage. When they sighted us, they fired at least 15 live bullets into the air to scare us away (displaying one of the bullet shells he picked), and even pursued us into the bush, threatening to kill us all. The Divisional Police Officer of Itele was also among the officers that carried out this act”. Please we don’t want bloodshed in this community, so help us to beg the government.
Recall that StarMedia Renaissance reported in a publication posted on December 4, how the then Area Commander attached to the Sango Ota Division, Monday Agbonika, was alleged to have been empowering some criminals who pride themselves as land grabbers to incessantly invade a Laterite mining firm – Gbenga Ibuoye Nigeria Limited, in an attempt to frustrate the operations on the site and forcibly take over the property from the owner, Alhaji Gbenga Ibuoye. Ibuoye had 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. He alleged a determined move by some elements that are believed to be hiding under the cloak of some “powerful individuals” to oppress him and forcibly take over his rightful possession.
To affirm his legitimacy as the rightful owner of the disputed mining site, Ibuoye disclosed that he has been in the business for the past 30 years and that he bought the said land purposed for his mining business years back from these three families, Gbadamosi Onigbeyin, Odunifa Faloun, and Falola.
Ibuoye revealed that he ensured a detailed enquiry 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 Lafenwa town due to its inaccessibility, a project which I completed in synergy with the Ministry of Works. Some land grabbers led by one Kazeem Oluomo, Nuru Adeoye, Idowu Akanle 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 still came to harass us there,” Ibuoye said.
Adeniran Adeyinka, the Admin Officer at the Itele Police Division, confirmed to journalists that at least 60 PMS and conventional police officers were mobilized from the Itele Division, the Area Command, Ota Division, and Zone 2 Lagos Command to the site, but denied knowledge of the purpose of the deployment.
The Area Commander, ACP Muyideen Obe, also confirmed the incident during a phone conversation with our reporter. He said contrary to what was purported, that the raid on the community was not to vandalize but take over the Ibuoye Mining site.
His words, “Nobody vandalized it. There was a court order with a possession order that that place is taken, so that directive came from the Inspector General of Police. Policemen went there, and then decided to cut that place (the road) because if somebody said he has a mining license, does he have possession over that land? Does he have authority and possession over that property? I don’t know who has briefed you; (but) it is a directive from the Inspector General of Police that that possession order must be carried out”.
The Public Relations Officer to the Assistant Inspector-General of Police Zone 2, Mrs Hauwa, could not provide details on the incident as she said she had not been briefed.