Members of Olarokun Family of New Okoba, Agege, Lagos State, have protested against the alleged persecution by officials of the state Task Force on Environmental Offences.
The family told PUNCH Metro that the task force demolished their family fences and houses at Olayiwola Street in New Oko-Okoba on July 23, 2012 and arrested some of its members.
The family members comprising Chief Adisa Agbaosi, Alhaji Gafar Arowolo, Saheed Arowolo, Kehinde Ogunbiyi and Sakiru Agbaosi, accused the task force of using its position to intimidate them and taking sides with the residents.
Specifically, Agbaosi, 75, said the lands at New Oko Oba, including Olayiwola Street, measuring over 800 acres belonged to the family since 1843.
“We are neither troublemakers nor land-grabbers. The lands have been in dispute for close to 30 years until we won the matter in the court. However, we are peace-loving people and are ready to settle with those who come for settlement and not by intimidation and harassment,” the septuagenarian said.
Gafar on his part called on the government to call the task force to order.
“It is painful we are being persecuted over our lands after we have been given judgment. This is an infraction on the law and court rulings,” Gafar said.
Residents of New Oko-Oba, Agege, under the aegis of New Oko-Oba Development Association had in their petition to Governor Babatunde Fashola accused land speculators of conniving with policemen and using fake court judgments to demolish houses in the area.
The residents had alleged that on June 15, 2012, a land speculator in company with some people and more than 30 policemen stormed the area and demolished their shops and buildings.
They alleged that the land speculator came with a fake court judgment confirming him as the owner of the properties.
They said apart from the demolition of buildings, the roofing sheets of some houses were forcibly removed.
It was learnt that Fashola ordered the state Task Force on Environmental Offences to move into the area to restore normalcy.
Chairman of the task force, Mr. Bayo Sulaiman, a Superintendent of Police, had said investigation showed that the demolition was illegal.
The Deputy Police Public Relations Officer, Lagos State Police Command, Mr. Ozoani Damasus, had also said the Area Commander, Area G, Ogba, did not assign policemen for such operation.
But the lawyer to the Olarokun Family, Mr. Sunday Omoleye, said he was outraged by the task force chairman’s comment proclaiming the judgments as fake.
Omoleye said, “If the judgments were fake, why can’t the residents association go to court to set them aside or obtain superior judgments?
“Some of them have tried to do that in Suits No. ID/641/11 and the High Court dismissed their motion.”
He said the task force had already been sued.
“The judgments were duly executed and the lands covered by them were recovered by the Sheriffs of court and policemen from B Department Operations, Lagos Police Command. The judgment and execution are available,” he said.