Residents of Oke-Ela and its environs in the Yewa South 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 the Akinde Otegbeye family, which claimed to be the original owner of the land in the 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 which was obtained by our correspondent, described the Otegbeye family as 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 and restrained any other parties involved in the land dispute from trespassing.
The Court of Appeal sitting in 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 notice informing residents of the court judgment was seen pasted on some buildings.
A resident, Sunday Olatoye, said the development has confused the community.
Olatoye said, “This came to me as a surprise because I am not aware of any litigation against this land. I brought this place in 2014 and I have been living here since 2019.
“Seeing these people just storming this area and asking us to vacate our house that they have taken possession of them is confusing. 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 action.
Sotayo, while confirming that over 300 houses were affected by the court order, noted that the CDA would embark on a settlement with the family.
“The community will meet 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 channel and we will pursue that in ensuring that we get our land without any problem or rancour,” he said.
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 the true owner of the land.
He said, “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 one another.
“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.”