Acclaimed Africa's richest businessman, Aliko Dangote has continued with what some are calling, his desperate move to grab an expanse of land which is in dispute in Ibeju-Lekk,i for his proposed petro-chemical business in Lagos, the residents report.
Local chiefs, as well as landlords say, Mr. Dangote has “intensified deployment of demolition equipment into the Idasho community, and nine other inclusive villages, to clear out their farmlands and displace residents from their homes.
Their worries, which they expressed in separate letters, petitions, and interviews, obtained by SaharaReporters, is that Mr. Dangote ‘shows off,’ with “brazen defiance” against the court processes over the disputed land. Mr. Dangote is said to claim that he paid for the expanse of land to Lekki Free Zone Company, which the court said has no title to the land.
In separate court cases between the affected communities, and the Lekki Free Zone, the estate agent failed to convince the court that it had title to the land against the communities.
In one cited case before a High Court Judge in Ikeja, Justice Oyekan Abdullahi, the court had reportedly asked the Lekki Free zone to come forward with documents of title, but it had failed to prove any title. Following this development, the Free Zone had goaded Mr. Dangote to proceed with constructing his plants, the court process notwithstanding. Community landlords complained that the Idasho community had witnessed several “invasions” by weapon-wielding thugs, and policemen since then. In every invasion, they left tragedies behind to retreat, and to strike soon again. Saharareporters had reported one of such recent attack on the community, in which the invaders shot at one old man, cutting off his finger with the bullet, in a bid to forcefully eject his family in a sudden swoop.
Our correspondent interviewed a local chief, Mutiu Apena, on their seemingly cold attitude of aversion to development potentials in the area. Yet he said it was “a beneficial project” laced improperly with the very wrong approach. Mutiu Apena said the communities would prefer that Mr. Dangote approach them as acknowledged owners of the land, rather than patronize an estate agent that claimed false ownership of their land.
"We want the project, and we will release our land to him if he approaches us formally. But he continues to offend us by using different attacks, and methods, that make him susceptible for rejection," a local chief known as Emmanuel Ojo, told our correspondent.
Even as the courts made the title document requests that weakened Lekki Free Zone's case in the land dispute case, the Lagos State Ministry of Justice has also reportedly told Mr. Dangote to suspend any construction activity until documents supporting claims of ownership title by the estate agent are provided as claimed.
Only last week, the landlords said the Lagos State Ministry of Justice between them, and the Lekki Free Zone facilitated a meeting. Those meetings ended on a note of another bit of advise by the ministry to Mr. Dangote. The Dangote Company was admonished to wait until documents are provided proving that the estate agent he paid for the land, has genuine titles to them. The lands cover an expanse stretching across roughly nine villages.
Notwithstanding the advice, Mr. Dangote had intensified his efforts at factory construction. According to the residents, Mr. Dangote has now deliberately caused flooding into one of the villages by dredging a nearby river to allow the escape of series of floods into the homes of local residents. The landlords said the resulting flood from the river called, 'Lege,' has sacked most of them to squat away with friends in nearby villages that were not affected.
"After using weapons and force, he (Dangote) has now gone to dredge the Lege river that caused serious flooding, so that most residents have had to leave their homes as a result of the flooding," one landlord said.
Following the flooding, a strange team claiming to be from Mr. Dangote, had begun visiting the community and insisting to inject every villager for malaria. They claimed the villagers must now have malaria, and that Mr. Dangote had paid them to inject every resident in the Idasho community.
Although the residents said they rejected the offer, especially because they do not trust what substance they would be injected with, nor the intention of the source, that being, Mr. Dangote.
"Dangote's only desire is to see us evicted, so he can take over our land. He has used the military, the thugs, and our waters against us, in his spurious bid and now, are we to clap for him, and say his intention to inject all of us in the community is noble?" one landlord asked incredulously. He went on to say that many in the community have doubts that the offer made is out of generosity and good faith.
Even as they had rejected the offer for free injections, the group purportedly on an errand by Mr. Dangote, had continued to pester them and insisted all residents must take the injections.
One leader of the group who identified himself as Mr. Alabi Damilare, said Dangote sent him because he was sure they all “must have malaria and need his compulsory injections.”
On Tuesday morning, community residents continued to express displeasure that Mr. Dangote is using his influence and his clout in the Government to forcefully evict and displace residents.
"Even though he had chances of acceptance due to his fame, and possession of wealth, we have cause to doubt his businesses come with clean practices, as is his showing in his perpetual attack on our community to forcefully take over land," one resident said today.
"He (Dangote) is being backed by gluttons in the government, who want to make a relationship with him when they leave office, but our community will not let that happen," a landlord said, who added that Dangote must do business the right way other than through the use of force and manipulation.