Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu, has blamed some officials of the Lagos State Government as well as traditional rulers of the Ibeju-Lekki area of responsibility for the crises besetting the community, especially the deadly conflicts over disputed land.
Oba Akiolu spoke earlier today when he appeared at a coroner’s inquest at the Lagos State High Court in Ikeja. The inquest is mandated to investigate the causes of crises in the Ibeju-Lekki community culminating in several deaths. One of the more recent deaths was of Tajudeen Disu, chairman of the Lekki Free Zone that oversees development in the disputed land area.
Giving testimony at the inquest, Oba Akiolu criticized state government officials, saying their greed had fueled the crises. He declared that some state government officials were insincere and blinded by their greed, leading to actions that were against both good conscience and the interests of the residents of the community.
In addition, Oba Akiolu stated that some traditional rulers in the Ibeju-Lekki area were only concerned with their selfish financial interests. He accused them of cutting deals over land rather than focusing on planning for the larger community along and seeking the interests of their people.
The Oba’s testimony suggested that some staff of the Lagos State Ministry of Lands and Survey were engaged in rackets to issue certificates of land ownership. He praised inhabitants of the community for resisting the hijack of their communal land by greedy officials who have sold most of the land without helping to resettle the displaced residents. Even so, Oba Akiolu criticized the inhabitants for using the wrong methods in their fight, noting that they lacked exposure and were therefore easy to manipulate.
“The land belongs to the dead, the living and the unborn,” Oba Akiolu stated in his testimony to the coroner, Justice Adesuyi Olateru-Olagbegi. He added that the selling off the communal land had indigenous members of the community into strangers on their own land. He dared any of the local rulers to oppose his position on the issue, stating that they were too preoccupied with cutting deals in order to obtain cash largesse from business owners interested in acquiring land in the area, but with no concern for peace with the inhabitants.