Displaced people of 12 villages in the Ibeju-Lekki area of Lagos State cried out over the lingering crisis surrounding their land, which is now being cleared out by agents of the Lekki Free Zone Ltd (Lekki FTZ) and the billionaire businessman, Mr. Aliko Dangote.
Mr. Tajudeen Disu, the Managing Director of Lekki FTZ, was killed on the property recently.
In a press briefing by the community’s lawyer at the High Court in Ikeja on Wednesday, they emphasized that the deaths of people from the crisis, particularly of the Lekki FTZ boss, were avoidable.
"It must be stated that the unfortunate death of the late Mr. Tajudeen Disu, the Managing Director of Lekki Worldwide Investment Ltd in our clients neighbouring village of Okuniraye could have been avoided but for the fraudulent and oppressive lands administration by successive Governors of Lagos State, particularly the fraud perpetrated during the tenure of Governor Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu on various Community Lands in Ibeju-Lekki Local Government Area (LGA) of Lagos State", they said.
Although a panel of investigation was constituted by the Olateru-Olagbegi-led judiciary in Lagos State, the villagers allege that Lekki FTZ and Mr. Dangote both disrespected the process by continuing to destroy the crops and fish ponds of the inhabitants when clearing the area for the use of Mr. Dangote’s refinery. The businessman plans to use the land for a petrochemical plant.
The villages affected include Idasho, Loore, Pankere, Ajegunke, Agbon, Araromi, Kajola, Omisande, Moborode, Lajala and Fowoseje.
In a memorandum submitted by the villagers to the Olateru-Olagbegi-led panel, the communities said the crisis was started and is fueled by the greed of Lagos State Government officials. The community restated that Lekki FTZ is a limited company owned largely by officials of the Lagos State Government.
According to the leaders of the communities, Mrs. Oworu, a former Commissioner of Commerce in the administration of Governor Babatunde Fashola, is the largest shareholder in the Lekki FTZ business, under the control of her husband, Mr. Oyewola Oworu. They also allege that the State government protects the interests of Lekki FTZ and Mr. Dangote over that of the inhabitants of the area because of the private gains of a majority of the government officials from the business of Mr. Dangote and Lekki FTZ.
The villagers said they are resisting a persistent effort of forceful expulsion by the government and the private business concerns of Lekki FTZ.
SaharaReporters obtained a copy of the community's memorandum to the Olateru-Olagbegi-led panel of inquiry.
In it, they made the following assertions:
• "The land purportedly acquired for overriding public purposes under Section 28(1) (2) of the Land Use Act was handed over to Lekki Worldwide Investment Nigeria Limited by Governor Ahmed Tinubu. Several of Governor Timbu's cronies are the Managing Director and Executive Directors and operate the Company on his behalf.
• "The name of the company is Lekki Worldwide Investment Nigeria Limited. The Managing Director and Executive Directors of the company are the late Mr. Tajudeen Disu, Mr. Gawando Olusegun Abayomi and Mr. Oworu Oyewola Oyeniyi. They are business Partners, Subordinates, Agents, Associates and Privies of the former Governor Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu.
• "The fraudulent act was further perpetuated by Lekki Worldwide Investment Nigeria Limited by entering into an agreement with a Chinese Company called CCecc Beyond International Investment and Development Company Ltd to incorporate a company called Lekki Free Trade Zone Nigeria Ltd.”
Looking forward, the community requested that the Olateru-Olagbegi-led panel returns the land to its inhabitants, insisting that it is not being used for public purposes by the government, but for the commercial purpose of collecting dollars from private liability companies. They asked that the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanism be adopted by the stakeholders, to facilitate a compensation payment to the host villages.
The villagers also called for a proper coroner inquest to determine the source of the bullet retrieved from the body of the late Mr. Disu upon his death. The villagers have insisted he was killed by the very policemen the deceased led to the scene on the day he was shot.
The inhabitants also requested that men of the Nigerian Army and the Mobile Police Force 49 being used to intimidate the villagers, be immediately withdrawn.