There was pandemonium yesterday in Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State capital after angry residents resisted the demolition of some shrines and sacred trees by officials of the state government.
The ongoing demolition of structures in Ado-Ekiti is part of the urban renewal policy of Governor Ayo Fayose’s administration.
During the pandemonium, adherents of the deities at the shrines almost attacked men of the demolition squad but the intervention of armed security men deployed to the scene saved the day.
The residents of neighborhoods in the Oja Oba area insisted the shrines would never give way for the urban renewal exercise which they said was done in bad faith by the state government.
They had mobilized themselves on sighting two bulldozers deployed to pull down the two shrines in the vicinity.
The Ogun shrine and the Ejeye Oka Ere shrine are located in the court of the Arowa of Ado-Ekiti.
Armed security men were mobilized to the scene and entrance to Ewi’s Palace, to prevent a breakdown of law and order.
The protest led to temporary suspension of work on the shrines and the sacred trees.
But the locals remained at the scene raining curses and pouring invectives on the government for the action they described as “desecration of tradition which will have dire consequences.”
The latest demolition operation which started on Thursday saw at least four corpses exhumed from where they were buried which angered the deceased’s family members.
The bodies had been relocated elsewhere.
About seven graves were marked for demolition which sparked tension with family members keeping vigil awaiting the demolition squad.
A relation of one of the deceased who craved anonymity alleged that the compensation reportedly paid by the government did not cover the exhumation of the corpses and dismantling of the shrines.
Houses, shops and makeshift structures adjacent the palace of the Ewi were brought down by government bulldozers on Thursday.
A cold war erupted between the governor and the people of Ado-Ekiti over the latest demolition which led to a face-off with the Ewi, Oba Adeyemo Adejugbe at his palace, about three weeks ago.
The state government claimed it had paid a total of N400m as compensation to people whose houses were demolished so far in the ongoing demolition exercise in the state.
The government, however, was silent on those whose properties were to be demolished in the latest exercise.
Commissioner for Lands and Urban Development, Tayelolu Otitoju who disclosed this said the exercise did not affect Ado Ekiti alone.
According to him, more than 300 houses had so far been demolished under the exercise in Ado, Ikere, Efon Alaaye, Omuo, Ise, Emure, and Ijero, among other major towns.
He explained further that government embarked on the project to ease traffic congestion, adhere to urban policy expected of any civilized society especially Ado-Ekiti, the state capital.
Otitoju added that government would not compensate owners of demolished houses that were built on waterways and setbacks.