Indigenes of Abere community in Ede North Local Government Area of Osun State staged a protest against the demolition of some buildings in the community which the Ministry of Environment and Sanitation started on Monday morning.
The protesters, who barricaded the road and made bonfires on the road connecting Osogbo to Gbongan stopped the ministry officials from carrying on with the demolition.
One of the buildings was already destroyed when the indigenes trooped out and stopped the government officials from continuing with the exercise.
Some women and children were among the protesters, who accused the state government of seeking to annex the portion of the land to Osogbo, the state capital.
The protesters defied the presence of armed policemen and other security agents deployed in the area and continued with their protest.
Our correspondent observed that although an Armour Personnel Carrier and other police vans were at the scene, the police were civil in their approach, ignoring provocation and threat of attack from some of the protesting youths.
A member of the Osun State House of Assembly, representing Ede North Constituency, Mr. Debo Kamardeen, said he was woken up by calls from some members of the community, who informed him that government officials had started pulling down structures in the community which is located directly opposite the Osun State Secretariat.
Kamardeen said, “A week ago, officials of the Ministry of Environment and Sanitation came with the intention of demolishing some buildings here (Abere). We discussed with them and they said it was a directive from the government.
“The Ministry told us that the government wanted to use the place for a filing station. Then we started wondering why is it this place that is littered with fish ponds when there are other better places.
” I sent a mail to the Governor (Rauf Aregbesola), which he replied to. The governor said he had asked the Ministry of Environment and Sanitation to stop the planned demolition but to my surprise, around 6:30am (Monday) I was woken up by a call that there was a bulldozer destroying some buildings and the people of the community resisted by taking to the street.”
He stated that the belief of the people of Ede was that the demolition was embarked upon in order to cede the land under the control of Osogbo.
The chairman of Abere Community, Mr. Eniola Kasali, threatened that the community would not hesitate to go to war if those he said were behind the move did not stop the plan to cede part of Abere to Osogbo.
However, the General Manager of Osun Capital Territory Development Authority, Hassan Moruf, said the land under dispute was acquired by the government of the Western Region a long time ago and the owners were paid compensation.
He said, “The land belongs to the government and government can acquire any parcel of land in any area for the overriding public interest, whether such land is vacant or developed.”
Moruf described the protest and the bonfires made on the road as a condemnable act.
The Assistant Inspector of Police, Zone 11, Mr. Paul Okafor, who visited the scene appealed to the protesters to allow their leaders to dialogue with the state government on the issue in order to arrive at an amicable resolution of the crisis.
Okafor, who also condemned the bonfires said the heat would break the sections and it would leave potholes on them.