Residents of some communities in Badagry, Lagos, on Monday trooped out in their thousands to protest land encroachment by the Nigerian Army.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the communities included Apanuko, Wharatome, Agblimakaku, Whawu and Jijoho, all along Samuel Ekundayo Road, Badagry, Lagos.
The landlords and residents of the five communities were carrying different placards with different inscriptions ” Our land is not Army land” “Embargo has been placed on our land, please save our souls” “People are dying because of Nigerian Army encroachment on our land, please save us”.
Chief Viavoh Mobee, the Baale of Apanuko, said the protest was staged by the residents of the five communities to register their displeasure over the encroachment of the land by the Army.
“The land in question had been released long time ago by the Army, but we were surprised about three years ago when the Army started marking some of the buildings in those communities.
“Few days back we saw some soldiers going round the area. About two days back, we saw some people pegging the area, then on Saturday, they started excavating the land.
“So, we think before they fence our houses up, we should cry out for help
“We are appealing to the Nigerian Army not to continue with the work because by the time they completed the fencing, we will not have access to our houses,” he said.
Mr Ganiyu Akindokun, the Secretary, Alaaafia Wharatome Community said the land issue had been on for many years and put to rest.
Akindokun said that the land had been released many years back, adding that suddenly, the Army started marking houses for demolition.
“We have sent a letter to the House of Representatives and Defence Headquarters in Abuja and they promised to address the issues, but we are yet to see anyone.
“Two weeks ago, we saw some military men around, but they did not come to our area, but surprisingly we see them coming around to dig hole that they are planning to fence us up,” he said.
Mr Jubilee Olaide, the Chairman, Ifesowopo Community Development Area, said they were using the avenue to beg the Federal Government, Lagos state government and traditional rulers in Badagry to save their souls.
According to him, we don’t have anywhere to go if the Army displaces us.
“Most of the landlords in the areas are retirees and we don’t have anywhere to go again,” he said.
Mrs Serifat Basirat, a widow, who sells pure water at Seme park, urged the government to intervene and save them from ejection.
“I am begging the Nigerian Army not to demolish my house, it was the proceeds from pure water I used to build the house
“Where will I start from again,” she said.
NAN reports that the protesters marched down to Akran of Badagry’s Palace, Aholu Menu Toyi 1, where the monarch urged them to calm down.
Addressing the protesters, Akran urged them not to fight with soldiers over the issue.
According to him, the issue of encroachment of land had a beginning and would surely be resolved.
He appealed to the protesters to have confidence that the matter of the land would be solved when the committee working on the issue arrived in Badagry from Abuja.
Akran urged the protesters to return home and await the outcome of the matter, assuring them that their houses were saved.
Commenting on the issue, a senior military officer said, on condition of anonymity, that the Nigerian Army had gazette all his landed property in the country.
He said that most protesters knew that they built their houses on military land.
He said that the Army had settled most of the land owners a long time ago, but because the land were not fenced some people were selling the land to people.
“It is annoying that some people are still selling Army land to people in Badagry.
“The Defence headquarters sent some men to Badagry recently to use the gazette to check their boundaries and they have returned back.
“The Army delegates and the House of Representatives Committee on land would soon come to Badagry to resolve the problem,” he said.