There was tension on Wednesday when no fewer than 40 suspected land-grabbers clashed over the ownership of a green belt located in a vast gorge behind the Gateway Zone Community Development Association in Magodo Phase 1, Ikosi-Isheri Local Council Development Area of Lagos State.
It was gathered that the suspected land-grabbers, who belong to two families, were arguing over the ownership of the green belt and the argument degenerated into a clash, which spread into Joy Egbe Street in the Gateway Zone Estate.
During the clash, it was learnt that the land-grabbers fought themselves with weapons and in a bid to avoid being hurt, residents of the estate were forced to stay indoors..
The General Secretary, Gateway Zone Estate, Tony Ebinum, said the clash threw the residents into confusion, adding that the development of the green belt under contention had been banned by the state government.
He said, “I saw the land-grabbers clashing when my wife informed me that she was hearing noise on the street. Initially, they were arguing and it went on from 9am till around 11am when they started fighting themselves. The clash was between the Ojoko and Oloto families and it was because they were both claiming ownership of the green belt that has been banned by the state government for building activities.
“Both families claimed to be from the same lineage, but while the Ojoko family claimed to be from the father side, the Oloto family is said to be from the mother side and they met on the green belt this morning and started engaging themselves in a shouting match, which turned into a fight that threw residents of the estate into confusion.
“The boys from the Ojoko Family were about 15, while the boys from the Oloto family were up to 25; they freely used weapons like cutlasses and the clash spread onto Joy Egbe Street in the estate and everywhere in the estate became tense. The Oloto family later informed the Isheri Police Station and policemen detailed to the estate arrested five suspects from the Ojoko family. None of the boys from the Oloto family was arrested, because they reported to the police.”
Reacting to the development, the Chairman of the estate, Oyebode Ojomu, while condemning the insecurity occasioned by the activities of suspected land-grabbers in the estate, urged the government to take decisive action to prevent them from encroaching on the green belt.
“The Lagos State Government should act swiftly on the green belt zone beyond official rhetoric on the Magodo new master plan. We have denied the land-grabbers access to the green belt through our estate gate, but our borders are porous and we have been urging the New Towns Development Authority to fence our borders or give us permission to do it on our own such that their official mandate allow us to seek security protection while the construction will last,” Ojomu said.
Recall that the Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development in the state, Dr Idris Salako, had said no approval was granted for housing development in the green belt.
The Commissioner for Environment and Water Resources, Tunji Bello, had also said, “The Ministry of Environment is concerned about protecting our green belt areas. The absence of monitoring of such areas in the past four years has led to a lot of encroachment.”
When contacted, the state Police Public Relations Officer, CSP Muyiwa Adejobi, said, “The two families were talking about how to share the land. But if the government has declared that the land cannot be used, the government will know what do about it. But for normalcy to be in that place, the police are looking into it and the Area Commander, Area ‘H’, ACP Tunde Adeniran, is on the matter to see what we can do.”