Inhabitants of the Ibeju-Lekki area of Lagos State have accused a UK-based man, Segun Obembe, of being one of numerous impostors selling off the community’s land by posing as agents of the community.
In interviews with a correspondent of SaharaReporters, some of the inhabitants alleged that Mr. Obembe was hosting seminars in London where he advertised the land to unsuspecting buyers. They added that the impostors, including Mr. Obembe, were causing more strife for the residents who daily witness the influx of strangers into the area. “Many of these strangers have bought land here from scam artists posing as agents of the community,” said one of the residents.
The Ibeju-Lekki community has been embroiled in sometimes-violent disputes between buyers and the inhabitants. At one turn, the crisis claimed the life of Tajudeen Disu, boss of the Lekki Free Zone, a state agency that oversees the development of the contested land. Some buyers have claimed that they bought land in the area from the Lekki Free Zone, but the inhabitants have insisted that they have no relationship or agreement with the company.
As the dispute lingers, some clients of the Lekki Free Zone Company, including Africa’s richest person, Aliko Dangote, have used the military on several occasions to assault the inhabitants, often forcing them to surrender their farmlands. A source in the community accused billionaire Dangote of hiring soldiers to guard and patrol a disputed area allocated to him for building his petrochemical plant.
Some residents accused the Lekki Free Zone Company of empowering a group of people parading themselves as owners of the land in order to validate land deals. “They give them [the impostors] gifts of cars and cash, but they have failed to obtain genuine rights from the inhabitants. Many prospective developers who purchased land from the Lekki Free Zone Ltd have clashed with the inhabitants who resisted attempts to clear the farmlands for other purposes.
Mr. Disu, chairman of the Lekki Free Zone, was killed during one recent clash.
Despite ongoing court cases over the disputed land, Mr. Dangote and other wealthy buyers have continued construction on the land, using policemen and soldiers to scare off residents.
Inhabitants told SaharaReporters that, in addition to ongoing feuds with the Lekki Free Zone Ltd, they now have to contend with impostors like Mr. Obembe who mislead unsuspecting buyers into making land deals.
Inhabitants said they recently obtained a copy of Mr. Obembe’s flyer seeking buyers for land in Ibeju-Lekki. They said they had confronted representatives of the Lekki Free Zone Ltd, adding that the company denied any affiliation with Mr. Obembe. “In fact, the Lekki Free Zone Ltd lawyer, Mr. Tayo, told us that the company had also been looking for the person called Segun Obembe for allegedly impersonating the company,” one resident told our correspondent.
“We see different people everyday, claiming to have paid for our land. And they always come prepared to clear our farmlands without any known approval,” a traditional chief of the Idasho community told our correspondent.
“We are calling on members of the public to be wary of phony agents claiming to have rights to sell out land,” said Mr. Adedotun, secretary of the community. He added, “We don't know Segun Obembe and other impostors.”