• Decries land grabbers’ invasion of Ibeju-Lekki
By Tope Templer Olaiya, Assistant Lagos City Editor
The spate of insecurity at Ibeju-Lekki area of Lagos worsened at the weekend when the notorious activities of land-grabbers, popularly known as Ajagungbales sent shivers down the spines of residents in a botched kidnap attempt of the traditional ruler of Oke-Odo Elemoro Land, Epe, Oba Tajudeen Afolabi Elemoro.
The dreaded gang registered their usual presence in the early hours of Sunday at the palace of the Onitedo of Itedo, Oke-Odo Elemoro. At about 2am, the armed bandits, who came in a Special Utility Vehicle (SUV) during the heavy rain that fell that night in most parts of Lagos, broke into the palace by pulling down a section of the fence.
After gaining access into the expansive compound, they switched off the generating set. This abrupt termination of light alerted those residing within the palace walls, some of whom ventured to come out to check what could be wrong with the generating set. They were immediately confronted by the armed men, who requested that they be taken to where the king was.
“I ran and hid myself in the toilet,” Oba Elemoro said when The Guardian visited the palace on Tuesday. From his hiding place, he made frantic calls to some of his chiefs and the police. “The police didn’t pick their calls and by the time the chiefs came, the armed robbers had gone,” the Oba said.
The rattled king, who now fears for his life is making a desperate call to the state government to come to their rescue and address the insecurity challenges in the area by stationing an Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) in Elemoro and environs.
“On countless occasions, I have written to the DPO that nobody is safe in this community and that some policemen should be sent to the palace to protect me. I have not seen any policeman till date.
“Since Monday, the chiefs have been my security, as they have been taking turns and shifts to be with me at the palace. The land grabbers have invaded this community and we are helpless. In all my life, I have never heard where an Oba is kidnapped in his palace,” he said.
The Guardian obtained a copy of a letter sent by the Commissioner of Police to the Divisional Police Officer, Elemoro, dated February 23, 2009, which ordered the deployment of two-armed static guard for Oba Elemoro at the palace. Signed by V.O. Brown, Assistant Commissioner of Police, the letter, which ordered strict compliance, stated that the two-armed guards should not be used as orderlies.
A policeman, who pleaded that his name should not be mentioned, said that the instruction from the Commissioner of Police could not be carried out because the Elemoro station is short-staffed and therefore could not afford to release two policemen to be stationed at the palace.
At the moment, the unarmed policeman attached to the Oba as orderly was provided by the Ibeju-Lekki local government chairman.
According to the Oba, no one is safe as the land grabbers are everywhere. “The police know them and where to get them. This is why we need government intervention and reinforcement so this doesn’t grow to become a monster soon.
“It’s now over five years since these land grabbers have been operating in our land unchallenged. Residents dare not pass where they are, even our children can’t move freely anymore in the community as these vicious men brandish weapons openly. As a result of this, people are leaving this area en mass,” said the monarch.
Another area where the Ibeju-Lekki community is seeking government’s intervention is in the provision of electricity. For two years now, residents have been living in darkness. “I spend N5,000 everyday to fuel my generator in the palace despite giving the Power Holding Company of Nigeria five plots of land for them to build a substation here.
“The same applies to the police. The community donated four hectares of land to the Area ‘J’ Command and another four plots for the police station. In fact, we constructed the station for the police and we are yet to see their impact in this community. If there was light, the crime situation would drastically reduce,” Elemowo concluded.