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Igbehin/Ota Ikosi Land Tussle: The Baale Jamiu Olayiwola Angle | Citizen NewsNG

ByCitizen NewsNG

Apr 28, 2024

In the south western part of Nigeria, land tussle is a regular phenomenon which has been on for years. This detrimental occurrence has had very negative effects on communities, with many losing their beloved sons and daughters to several mayhems perpetrated most especially by youths of erring communities.

There have been many examples of communal clashes that have ended the lives of many, destroyed farms and properties valued at several billions of naira among other detrimental effects.

Presently, two neighbouring communities are undergoing yet another land tussle. They are Igbehin, a developing town situated near Ota in Ogun State and Ota Ikosi which is tucked between Aki, Ota, Odo Isheri all under Agbowa Ikosi Ejinrin LCDA near Ikorodu Lagos.

According to documents made available us, it was gathered that the people of Ota Ikosi allegedly encroached on the lands of Igbein dwellers, threatening to grab their farms and lands from them. The resultant effect of this threat was a heated argument turned fracas between the two communities. A mini war erupted and before one could blink an eyebrow, a life was lost to the mayhem. However, we also gathered that the victim was a farmer working in Igbein and while the murder case was reported at the Agbowa Police Station, the report was rebuffed by representatives of Ota Ikosi who claimed that the victim was killed by hired cultists from Igbein.

As a thoroughbred investigative journalist, we sought the comment of the Baale of Igbein, High Chief Jamiu Saliu Olayiwola Awotimirin whose community was illegally invaded and he opened up that his community, Igbein is situated between several other communities like Aki, Odo Isheri, Ota Ikosi which it shares common boundaries with. He opined that he has been on the throne of Baale Igbehin Ikosi for over 20 years and that he maintained a very cordial relationship with the late Oba of Ota Ikosi HRM Oba Adeyemi Ajagbe and that there was never any period when land grabbing tussle was recorded ever since he became the Baale.

Baale Olayiwola further stated that he used to represent the late Oba of Ota Ikosi at several occasions he (the king) cannot attend. He added that Igbein is an ancient town where all normal Yoruba traditional festivals are observed such as Oro, Ota, Igbomina and the town is also multi-religious with the presence of a mosque, church, shrine and a standard palace.

High Chief Olayiwola Awotimirin expressed that he is the 11th Baale of Igbein Ikosi and that in 1938, there is the record that the Baale of Igbein Ikosi is a member of the Council of Chiefs in Ikosi District. So also was Baale Ota, Baale Aki were also in the same Council. We have their record. Before 1962, the Baale of Ota as at then, Chief Musa Ajigaloye whose father was from Ota while his mother was from the Awotimirin family in Igbein, a move that brought unity between the two towns. Meanwhile, a son of Baale Ajigaloye’s elder sister Ibrahim Abatan also became Baale of Ota at the same time. Making it two cousins as Baale of Ota and Baale of Igbein.

Back then, a Jamaican man came all the way from his country to harvest crops and his first port of call was Ota. It was Baale Abatan that brought this Jamaican man to Igbein. In the long run, there was a dispute which was later settled out of court. It was from the court that Igbein was asked to go and do survey which was done in 1953 but hurriedly.

When I was in Part 3 at Epe Local Government, I went to the late Oba Adeyemi Ajagbe and told him that “oko ki n je ti baba ko ma ni ala,” meaning every land has got its own boundary. The late king asked me if I know the boundary of both Ota and Igbein which I described and that was it. We have customary tenants in Igbein and whenever we are observing the Oro festival, people come from Ota to celebrate with us and if they are also having Oro festival in Ota, we go there too. So, we do everything together without any hitches.

Now, when we raised the issue of our lands survey, the survey they did then was not visible but the pillars erected on the lands surrounded Igbein town and we wanted to do a modern survey. That was why we consulted Oba Adeyemi Ajagbe, the Olota of Ota Ikosi. But unfortunately, by the time we see money to sponsor the surveyor, Oba Ajagbe died. I then consulted the Regent Chief Julius Oyenuga that is how far me and the late Olota agreed and rather than calling me personally for a meeting, he wrote the state government directly. That was the era of Hon. Kuye as Commissioner for Chieftaincy Affairs who invited us to Alausa. The Regent of Ota, the Oba of Agbowa HRM Oba Odumeru, the Oba of Odo Ayangelu kingdom and I.

Everything we agreed on was inconclusive until the change of government. After the change of government, we wrote another letter back to the same ministry that what you did for us this is inconclusive and they invited us again to Alausa in 2014. When we got there, they now refer our letter to the council of Obas and Chiefs in Epe so that the Obas and Chiefs in those communities will see what’s happening and give them report. They came twice to observe the lands survey and reported back to the ministry of Chieftaincy and land matters in Akausa, then it was the era of Hon. Folami as Commissioner and Hon. Bello was Commissioner for Land Matters.

If you are going on Beach Road, Ota is in the right while Igbein is in the left. They asked us to do our survey which we did and registered. Any son of Igbein that sells land must bring one third of his sales while customary tenants are mandated to bring percentages all year ending and if they see anybody that is interested in buying land, they bring such a person to me and I’ll give them two third. We later realized that most of the suddenly grow wings and became stubborn and we cannot chase them away. We went to court, obtain several judgement because of them and those who are indigenes, we went to court and do the case together. Some of the them are adamant, we went to court, obtained judgement, obtain possession and did our survey from the Surveyor General in Alausa and we have copies of the survely as we are now.

After obtaining all these legal documents, we realized that these Ota people don’t relent of their trouble making by trampling on our lands. Later, we learnt that they sold a land somewhere on our land and we haven’t finished case on that land. The owner of that land is Chief Aruban Njimu. Back then in 2009, this Chief Njimu came to meet me at my then office in Shomolu alongside his son who is my age mate. He told me that he had sold his land and he knew he had to give Igbein one third. I told him to go and meet the elders to discuss this issue because I may be a Baale but am like a son to him. He asked me to let us make it 50/50 and I asked him why, how can you make it 50/50?

The Olota of Ota was alive then and I went to meet him. I told the Kabiyesi that this baba is a customary tenant and he cannot come and claim our land and the Oba said it’s true. Kabiyesi called the baba and said this and these are the protocols he must adhere to but for a long time, the baba did not do anything and if we leave him alone, another issue cropped up and we dragged him to court and we were on the case before he died. Many of such examples like that we obtained judgment against. But this one that the Ota boys are now coming, from Akeem Lawal, Ibrahim Ekemode,Waliu Kotoge, Ahmed Tiamiyu and Olayiwola Samu. They are the ones that usually brought land grabbers to invade on our lands. Then, we were unaware that they have sold a land which they are using the proceeds to fight against us. We confronted them when we saw them on the land and asked ourselves that is it not the land that old man tried to have an agreement of 50/50 with us that these people sold? We arose and headed to Zone 2. The police asked us questions which we answered, explaining our own sides of the story and the DIG ordered his men to visit the land and conduct investigation. The day they came, the present Olota of Ota who was asked if he knew anything about the issue which he denied. The Police told him that you don’t know anything about it and you are claiming that the land belongs to Ota. You are watching till all the crop products of that land were destroyed through illegal encroachment. They however warned that no life was lost on the land before they came back. They invited us back again, their boss had warned us that none of us must go to the land. Some of our children went to the land on the 7th of November 2023 and they were beaten, battered and bruised. We reported them at SWAT Abuja and they referred to them and yet, they did not come. When we got back home, the new Olota Omoloro Ije invited land grabber when he invited us to land grabber, suit number land grabber was LS/LG/2019/4377. So, as we discussed that day, Arole was the Chairman of the land grabbers then. He told the kabiyes that all the documents with judgement that I see with Igbein and the survey he is seeing, leave the land for them. Ikorodu cannot say he owns Imota, and Imota cannot claim to own Ikosi. Leave them alone. As we were discussing, the Oba stood up immediately and left. He left his Chairman on the seat annoyingly and left. When we eventually left there, it’s not up to three months when Arole has left there as the Chairman, this February 2024. They invited us again and we went and we presented the same documents not knowing that they have arranged with the police from Abuja and as we got there and explained, them said you have brought this document here before and if you have anything to claim, then go to court. They were told to counter the documents in court and they agreed. As soon as we stepped down, we were accosted by heavily armed policemen. We even thought they were kidnappers and we started running helter skelter in Alausa back then. We were surrounded by crowd which attracted us being taken to the Alausa Police Station. We were then referred to Abuja. When we realized that the police in Abuja did not answer us on time and those miscreants are giving us sleepless nights, we decided to write a letter to the Oba of Lagos HRM Oba Rilwab Akiolu that is what is happening in our community that we can’t sleep or do anything peacefully. Our children can’t go to school and our women cannot go to their markets. Oba Akiolu then referred our letter to the ministries like ministry of Justice, ministry of Chieftaincy. They all invited us for a peace meeting and that we should go and sit until they are through and refer us to council in Ikosi Ejinrin.

Amazingly, the Olota of Ota Ikosi was telling other Obas that he has guns, about four that was approved to him in America. Though I did not record him but there are living witnesses there that are still alive. The Oba of Ikorodu was the Chairman of the Committee and everyone listened to what he said were surprised that when did this matter got to the issue of guns?

They asked him to go that they will write letters to the Obas in the community. We all left and there was no fighting or whatever. So, on the 4th of April, we were at the palace observing the Easter ceremony when by 12pm, we suddenly saw Akeem Lawal, Ahmed Tiamiyu, Waliu Olorunniwo, Ibrahim Ekemode. We saw them all on Okada, they were almost about 30, fully armed with guns. There was a hunter who was very popular who also works at Council and sings as well. He rushed passed us and we were having our funs. As they got to our side, they opened fire and for good one hour they were raining guns and we were all confused. Mobile policemen opened fire at us as well and we were further confused not knowing where to pass. It was after that we went out and saw a body shot on the ground. We rallied round him and took him to the hospital. His name was Ibrahim Keshinro. We don’t know if the guns he mentioned was what they used in killing the man. The Oba of Ikorodu was there, HRM Oba Lamidi Gbadamosi was there, HRM Oba J. A Adegbesan the Onise of Ise, HRM Oba Rafiu Ishola Babatunde Balogun the Elejinrin of Ejinrin, HRM Oba Kabiru Adelaja Agbabiaka, the late Osolo of Isolo, HRM Oba Adekanmbi Ajose Alapa of Apa, HRM Kayode Akinyemi Alabirun of Ikare, HRM Oba Samsondeen Kasali, HRM Oba Adeyemi Adesina, HRM Oba Hafeez Elejigbo of Lagbaja, Chief Obanikormo of Lagos was also there.

In conclusion, the Baale Jamiu Olayiwola urged the government to come to their aid on the matter.

In their own response, one of the indigenes of Ikosi-Ota, Tiamiyu Omotayo Ahmed denied the claim of the Baale, saying, the indigenes of Ota Igbein were the ones that brought notorious cultists to their community themselves, they have done it several times. The one that was done on Easter Monday that claimed a live was also done by them, we were celebrating on Easter Monday when we just heard gunshots, since then, our wives can’t go to the market and our men too can’t go to farm, but we are all afraid.

 

 

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