Inhabitants of nine villages, especially the Okun-Idasho community in Ibeju-Lekki area of Lagos State, say they are ready to respond forcefully after workers hired by Nigerian billionaire businessman Aliko Dangote commenced construction on disputed land.
The villagers, most of whom have been displaced from their homes by the Lagos State Free Trade Zone Company on behalf of Mr. Dangote, threatened to use every means possible, including their “ancestral powers,” to fight the project.
Several residents who spoke to SaharaReporters said they were infuriated by Mr. Dangote's contempt for them, citing the billionaire’s decision to proceed with construction of a refinery on the land even though the displaced residents have filed a lawsuit to stop him.
A source familiar with the land dispute accused the Lagos Trade Free Zone officials of encouraging Mr. Dangote to move ahead with construction, assuring the businessman, who is on the Forbe’s magazine list of the world’s richest people, that “nothing will happen.”
“Alhaji Dangote has also gained confidence that he would succeed in forcing us, the inhabitants, out of our homes and land without helping anybody to resettle, because he has the support of the Lagos State Governor, Fashola,” one of the leaders of the community said.
The aggrieved landowners accused the Lagos Free Zone Company of forcibly ejecting them and also using mobile policemen and soldiers to harass them for resistance injustice. They claimed that police and soldiers had fired shots at people and homes during recent protests.
Some of the villagers claimed that they discovered recently that some of the uniformed men who forced them out of their homes and lands were not real police officers but thugs armed and used by some Lagos politicians in the 2011 elections. “We don’t know how they got police uniforms and weapons,” said one of the village leaders, adding, “but they have disappeared after we reported them to the police authority as impersonators.”
However, he stated that the Lagos State government immediately got security agents deployed to the location to protect lands grabbed by Mr. Dangote for his refinery.
“We will use every means to fight and recover our land,” one of the displaced residents vowed.