Police officers have begun to evict residents and forcefully take possession of houses in Phase 2, Magodo Estate, Lagos, FIJ can report.
Our reporter observed that officers deployed by Usman Baba-Alkali, the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), on Tuesday, locked some marked houses and forced out residents.
The officers, according to residents, marked their houses and used padlocks to lock their gates in a bid to prevent access.
Wale Ibitoye, a resident, told FIJ that he was in his house when he heard a noise at his gate this morning.
“I came out and met policemen who said they would arrest me. I asked why, and they said I was staying in the house they locked up before now. They said I had committed contempt of court by breaking the padlock they used to lock the house.”
Banjo Osinubi, chairman of the Magodo Residents Association (MRA), said police officers had been loitering around the estate for the past two weeks, marking houses with the inscription ‘ID/795/88 possession taken today, 21/12/2021 by court order’.
This action was done to implement a Supreme Court ruling which found the Lagos State Government guilty of illegally possessing Shangisha Landlords Association’s 549 plots of land which form part of the estate.
Osinubi said Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the state governor, contacted him earlier to say the state would intervene on Tuesday or Wednesday morning.
“The reason we came out today was to get the police out of the estate, because we are a very peaceful estate, Osinubi told FIJ. “If not that the governor spoke with me yesterday himself that he would come in today or tomorrow to address us, we would have gone to Alausa around 10 am today.
“He said he is coming today or tomorrow, so I don’t want to march to his office after speaking with him last night. But if he doesn’t show up, we will march to his office.”
He said the presence of police officers can agitate residents and lead to bloodshed if residents challenge them.
Segun Adewale, former Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Chairman in Lagos and resident of the estate, condemned the state government for keeping mute over the matter.
He said he could not fault the Shangisha Landlords as he purchased his house from the state and had a valid certificate of ownership issued to him by the government.
“The people I am really blaming is the government. The government took over their lands, and the government has to sort them out,” he told FIJ. “We bought this land from the government; they gave us C of O. This is a GRA, so if the government has an altercation with the land owners, that is their problem.”
Some residents alleged that the police did not mark houses belonging to people who worked with the state government, suggesting a bias in their approach.
On Monday, residents of the estate began to protest the invasion by the police after living the past two weeks with Sanwo-Olu’s assurance that the state would resolve its conflict with the Shangisha Landlords Association.
When FIJ attempted to contact Frank Mba, Nigeria Police spokesman, he did not respond to calls. At press time, a text message sent to him had also not been responded to.