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Land Grabbers’ Violent Resurgence in Lagos Leaves a Trail of Blood and Tragedy

Land grabbing, a long-standing issue entrenched within the heart of Lagos society, continues to wreak havoc without apparent resolution in sight.

Known colloquially as “omo onile” (landowners’ children), these land grabbers operate with brazen impunity across Lagos State, fostering the belief among residents that they enjoy covert support from influential figures in executing their nefarious activities.

Frequently, land grabbers storm construction sites, armed with a range of dangerous weapons, to either extort site workers or forcibly evict them under the pretext of conflicting land ownership claims.

These audacious land grabbers also engage in the illicit business of wresting properties from rightful owners and reselling them to the highest bidder. In some instances, they may offer alternative parcels of land in entirely different locations to victims of their illegal actions.

The menace extends beyond property seizures, as these armed assailants do not hesitate to resort to violence, beating, dehumanizing, and even taking lives without remorse.

In recent times, violent land-grabbing incidents have surged, causing unrelenting turmoil in various areas, particularly in Lekki, Ibeju Lekki, and Epe.

One particularly distressing case unfolded in the alleged murder of Fatai Jubril, a traditional ruler in Lotu Town, Ibeju Lekki, on July 15, 2023, during a land dispute. Jubril’s widow, Ejiro, recounted a harrowing experience where her husband was fatally shot after being brutally assaulted.

The Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, Benjamin Hundeyin, confirmed the incident and initiated a manhunt for the suspected killers, subsequently leading to the arrest of one suspect. However, the spokesperson for the Zone 2 Command, Hauwa Idris-Adamu, later disclosed that the prime suspect had been released on bail.

Jubril’s tragic case is just one among many instances where land-grabbing activities continue to thrive unchecked, causing immense suffering, loss of lives, and property for residents.

Another victim, Shamsudeen Oluwo, seeks justice following an alleged assault by Saheed Mosadoluwa, also known as Ibile, in the Epe area. In a video circulating on social media, Oluwo detailed a terrifying encounter where he and others were subjected to humiliation and violence, seemingly in the presence of police officers.

In response, Ibile claimed self-defense and alleged that Oluwo was a hired assassin, further escalating tensions.

A group of public interest lawyers, Lawyers for Reform Group, has called for justice for Oluwo, highlighting concerns over the growing activities of land grabbers in the state. The group aims to protect fundamental rights and equitable justice, advocating for the rescue of Oluwo and others who, despite being victims of attempted murder, have been treated as suspects by the police.

Efforts to reach a resolution between Oluwo and Ibile, facilitated by the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, have been marred by Ibile’s continued actions, which contravene agreements to maintain the status quo.

The Nigerian Police Force has acknowledged the situation and assured the public that justice will prevail.

The Lagos State government, led by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, is actively addressing land-grabbing issues, urging affected parties to seek legal recourse rather than resorting to violence.

The fight against land grabbing in Lagos remains a complex, deeply rooted challenge, requiring sustained efforts from both law enforcement and the community to bring about lasting solutions.


Ademola Adeyemi

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