By Raji Rasak and Itohan Abara-Laserian
Community leaders and residents of Igbesa and its environs in Ado-Odo/Ota Local Government Areas of Ogun on Sunday appealed to the incoming Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, to assist them in getting their land back from the Chinese investors.
In interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), they urged the incoming governor to accord their grievances priority on his administration’s agenda.
Speaking on behalf of the communities, Chief Rasheed Bamitefa, the Odemo of Igbesaland, said that the encroachment of the land started after the demise of traditional ruler of the community in 2017.
“After the demise of Oba Olusola Banuso, the Oloja Ekun of Igbesa-land, when arrangement for the installation of another king was on top gear, some people in the town connived with the Chinese investors to encroach our land.
“Before then, people of Igbesa had given the Chinese investors some hectares of land to build their company with the assistance of the former Governor Gbenga Daniel.
“But unfortunately, they had now exceeded the agreement reached with them by encroaching on our farmlands.
“The Chinese investors connived with some undesirable elements to exploit the landowners because they are helpless.
“It is sad that the investors are now claiming all the landed property of those that gave parts of their land to them without compensation to build their company some years back.
“They have now become terrors, threatening land owners, attacking them and subjecting them to different assaults because of their inheritance.
“The incoming governor should assist us in getting our inheritance back, the suffering is unbearable,” he said.
Also, Alhaji Jamiu Ajose, a representative of Ilali Family in Igbesa, said he was among the committee that gave the land to the Chinese investors when they requested for lands in Igbesa.
“We did this so that the community will not lack behind in the development of Ogun.
“What we gave them is being called the Ogun-Guangdong Free Trade Zone now, but the encroaching land is not part of the agreement.
“When this was happening, we called on the representative of the government when the agreement was made that these people are going beyond their limitations, but they did not respond to our calls,” he said.
Ajose said, on behalf of Ilali Family, he had written several letters to the Chinese investors to complain about the encroachment, but they did not respond to the letters.
He said that the investors were destroying structures erected on the land without any plan to compensate the owners of the land they encroached.
“They are destroying crops we have just planted and buildings that had been erected years back, just to extend their company without any agreement with the people.
“Even, they have not paid compensation for the land we gave them to build their company. This is injustice to us.
“We want the incoming administration of Abiodun to set a panel to investigate this encroachment to see who is at fault between the landowners and Chinese investors.
“We have been cheated, betrayed, disappointed, assaulted and lost farmland to these ungrateful investors.
“We are appealing to the incoming governor to help the communities in regaining their encroached inheritance,” he said.
Mrs. Jumoke Ogunlana, one of the landowners in Igbesa Community, said she inherited the land from her grandfather and her plan was to give it to her children.
Ogunlana said that the Chinese investors had destroyed all the agriculture produce that worth over N2 million on the land when they came with tractor.
“I gave the land to some farmers who planted food crops on the land. One day they called me that some strange fellow were parading my land that I should come.
“I spent three days on my land to prevent them from encroaching, but on the fourth day they came with police and forced me inside their pickup, took me to Agbara Police Station.
“I was in the station till the following day; when I returned to my land, the damage had been done.
“They had encroached and destroyed all the cash crops like palm trees, kolanut trees, cocoa, plantain trees and other crops on my land.
“The Chinese investors destroyed my only source of surviving; they left me with nothing to take care of my children.
“The governor-elect is my only hope now. I believe he will safe me from this injustice from foreigners,” she said.
In his comments, a Youth Leader, also landowner, Mr Anidu Jamiu, said that youths from the communities were not happy with the development.
Jamiu urged the incoming administration to look into the injustice being meted out to them by the Chinese investors.
He said that the consequences of the land encroachment would be disastrous, if left unchecked.
When NAN Correspondents visited the Chinese Company in Igbesa, it was observed that the Chinese investors had dug a motte to cut off residents from their lands and properties.
At the Ogun-Guangdong Free Trade Zone office, the Chinese investors refused the correspondents’ entry into their premises.