Residents of Oke-Ela and its environs in the Ilaro Local Government Area of Ogun State have been thrown into panic following a court order authorising a family to take over not less than 300 houses and plots of land in the area.
The State High Court sitting in Abeokuta had granted the prayers of Akinde Otegbeye family, which claimed to be the original owner of the land in the Oke-Ela community, and to also take possession of over 300 houses and underdeveloped plots of land in the community.
It was gathered that members of the family went to the community in the early hours of Wednesday with mobile policemen and court bailiffs to take possession of the properties on the land as ordered by the court.
The judgment, which was delivered by Justice Solomon Olugbemi a copy of obtained by our correspondent, stated that the Otegbeye family was the rightful owner of the land, which measures about 9.473 hectares.
Justice Olugbemi in the judgment dated March 6, 2019, granted a perpetual injunction to the Otegbeye family restraining any other parties involved in the land dispute from trespassing.
The judge argued that the Otegbeye family provided traditional evidences to prove the land in dispute belong to their forefathers.
The court of appeal sitting at Ibadan under Justice Folasade Ojo also affirmed the judgment of the High Court, dismissing an appeal against the Otegbeye family.
The court had on March 30, 2022, issued a warrant of possession to the family to take over the land as the rightful owners.
Acting on the court order, the family went to the community with policemen and reportedly locked some of the houses and pasted the notice of possession on them.
When our correspondent visited the area, a caveat emptor notice was pasted on some buildings and tension enveloped the community.
The notice informed the residents to be aware that the real owners of the land had been granted access to take ownership of the properties within the 9.473-hectare radius
The notice read partly, “This is to inform members of the general public that all that piece or parcel of land lying being and situated at old Papalanto road Oke-Ela, Ilaro, Yewa South Local Government area of Ogun state measuring 9.473 hectares belong to the Akinde Otegbeye family.
“The land become a subject of litigation in suit no HCL/12/2016 between Benson Okiklade Otegbeye & ANOR. (representing akinde otegbeye family) and Mr Najim Elegbede & 3 Ors (representing Afonja family of Ona’la quarters of Ilaro).
“In a considered judgement dated 6th March 2019. the Akinde Otegbeye family was adjudged as owners. Upon appeal in appeal no. CA/1B/216/2019, the Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal and affirmed the judgement of the High Court thus a further confirmation of ownership of the land by the Akinde Otegbeye family
“Take notice that by virtue of the judgements hereinbefore mentioned, the Akinde Otegbeye family are the bonafide owner of all the piece or parcel of land aforesaid. Therefore, anybody or person on the land without the consent authority or permission of the family is in illegal and unlawful possession of the land and is hereby advised to yield possession to the family.
“Take further notice that henceforth anybody or person who wishes to have anything to do with aforesaid land in any manner whatsoever is by this notice advised to deal with the family.”
Some of the residents, who spoke with our correspondent, expressed worries over the new development.
They lamented that they had no idea if the new proprietor of their lands would ask them to make further payments.
They expressed anxiety over a possible forceful takeover of their houses by the new landowners.
A resident, Sunday Olatoye said the new development have caused confusion in the community.
Olatoye claimed he is not aware of the court case untill the family stormed the community to take possession.
He added, “This came to me as a surprise because I am no aware of any litigation against this land. I brought this place in 2014 and I have been living here since 2019.
“Seeing this people just storming this area and asking us to vacate our house that they have taken possession is confusing and I believe the Community Development Association will do something.”
A community leader, Tunji Sotayo said the community will hold a general meeting to determine the next line of actions.
Sotayo while confirming that over 300 houses were affected by the court order, noted that the CDA would embark on settlement with the family.
He said, “As you can see, it is a court order and we have to obey it wether we like it or not.
“The community will embarked on meeting with the family and see how we can settle this amicably. They can’t expect us to leave our house just like that.
“The Otegbeye family has provided a communication chanel and we will pursue that in ensuring that we get our land without any problem or rancor.”
Meanwhile, the Head of the Otegbeye family, Akanji Otegbeye said proper negotiation would be done with the occupants of the land.
He explained that the possession and locking of some houses was to let the people know that they are true owner of the land.
He added, “We can’t just come to the community and be laying claim to land here. That is why we got a court order so that we can come with law enforcement agencies and take possession of our land.
“We are ready for settlement, and we are not here to send anybody out of their homes.
“We are going to sit down with the owners of those houses and look at what we can do for each other.
“We are doing this to send trespassers away from our property; nobody will leave. Everything will end with negotiations that will favour all the parties.”
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