Tears flowed freely amidst mayhem as members of the Nigeria Police Force(NPF) on Monday descended heavily on three communities in Badagry, pulling down over 900 homes in Mowo Phase II, Atinpomere in a bid to recover about 65 hectares of land allegedly occupied by land speculators in the area.
The structures worth billions of Naira were destroyed in three villages occupying about 975 plots of land. The operation was led by an Assistant Commissioner of Police, ACP, Osu Ekpo in charge of Area’ K’ Police Command based on the order of the Inspector General of Police, Muhammed Abubakar.
A team of heavily armed police officers numbering about 200 in the early hours of the day stormed the community with about seven bulldozers and reduced the houses to rubbles.
We gathered that the affected land was originally hijacked from the police by a land grabber popularly called ‘omo onile’.
Although none of the residents could provide Certificate of Occupancy, ‘C of O’ but they all claimed they had obtained necessary building approvals before erecting their structures and had since bought the land from different families who claimed they had title to the land.
In a swift reaction the police officers picked holes in their claims, accusing the residents of occupying the land meant for the construction of estate for the police senior officers.
A police source said the residents had since been warned to vacate the land but the appeal fell on deaf ears.
“We were here two years ago to inform the residents to leave the place”, a police source said.
“The Baale of the place was so clever that he cited his building far from acquired land but the property owners wouldn’t listen and they kept developing their structure on the land”.
One of the evictees who gave his name as Yakub Waheed said he bought the land twice from different lad grabbers who showed up shortly after he erected the building.
“We know government also has hand in this demolition. There is nowhere to go now. I don’t know where to take my children and wife to”.
For Alhaji Kola the land was never under any acquisition by anybody before he bought the land in 2004.
“I could not have come to erect a building on an acquired land, we did the chat then, it was not under any acquisition but the problem began the moment a woman showed interest in the land.
“This is injustice, the matter is still in court and they came to chase us away. We were registered to the Lagos State Government through Urban and Rural Development. We pay tenement rate up till this December”, he said.