Tuesday, June 16

 6/16/2015         No comments

Dwellers of Omoyele Street in the Majidun area of Ikorodu, Lagos State say soldiers and officers of the Nigerian Navy deployed in the community to fight vandalism have taken over their houses and are using them as their dwelling houses.

The residents said the military personnel were deployed in the area eight months ago to flush out vandals and stop the vandalism of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation’s pipeline.
They said the operatives stormed the area on October 5, 2014, impounding thousands of litres of petrol stored in jerrycans while a large number of suspects were arrested.

The residents added that after the initial success, the operatives took over about 20 houses on the street and closed some shops under the pretext of securing the area.

According to Punch,they said many of them had to relocate temporarily, thinking that they would soon go back to their houses. They, however, lamented that they noticed that the military men had turned the houses into their barracks and also did not allow them to take their property.

Our correspondent, who visited the community on Saturday, observed that Omoyele Street was cordoned off by the armed officers, some of whom were seen sitting in front of some houses. It was also observed that the houses were locked.

However, a mother of three, Iyanu Chioma, said her family members were forcefully sent from their house by the officers.
She said they relocated to the Ogolonto area, where they rented a room. The 28-year-old woman added that the ejection had negatively affected the family.
 “This suffering is too much. Imagine my mother-in-law, my husband, my children and I living in one room. Feeding has been very difficult for us since we were sent out of our house in Omoyele. Those soldiers are now living in our house.
“My children cannot go to school again because there is no money. My husband is a commercial boat operator, while my mother-in-law had a shop, where she used to sell drinks. The military men closed the shop and also stopped my husband from operating on the river.”
Another displaced trader, Ola Omoyele, said elderly people were also thrown out of the area without being allowed to pack their property.
She said, “They told us to leave. I could only pick a few of my property. I used to sell drinks and pepper soup. But now, I am just struggling to feed myself and my child. The most annoying thing is that some elders on the street were also sent out. They should please allow us to move back to our houses.”
A boat operator, Durogbola Andrew, commended the officers for ridding the neighbourhood of vandals. He urged them to allow residents to engage in their lawful businesses.
 “I work for a marine firm. The officers have taken over the jetty where we carry passengers going to Victoria Island and Ebute since October last year. We know they are here to protect the community; but they should give us the freedom to operate.”
A fisherman, 56-year-old Adegboyega Oripeniaiye, said fishing was the only job he knew to take care of his family of nine.
“I have about seven children and fishing is the only source of taking care of them. People had to leave because of joblessness and those of us who stayed behind are living in fear,” he said.
The head of fish farmers and Secretary, Majidun Community Development Committee, Mr. Adelayo Aboriota, called on the government to come to their aid.
“I studied political science at a university, but I have to continue with fishing due to unemployment in the country; I realise N7,000 in a day. Right now, we cannot fish again because the military men did not allow us. I am married with three children. The burden is too much on me. We want the government to come to our rescue.”
A 53-year-old resident of the area, Magret Abejoye, said,
 “I sell firewood, but we can no longer go across the water to get the firewood. They (the military men) have been unfair to us.”
A photographer, Tokunbo Amos, said she had to move with her children to a relative’s house after her shop was shut down.
 “They have converted my shop and our house to their homes. My children and I are living with my husband’s family. We are not saying they should leave. It is our joy that illegal oil bunkering has become a thing of the past in this community. But they should allow us to return to our houses and our jobs.”
The spokesperson for Western Naval Command, Lieutenant Abdulsalam Sanni, said,
“We did not eject any resident from Majidun. Nobody stops them from doing their legitimate activities. They have no cause to fear. But in a situation whereby the fishermen connive with vandals to carry out illegitimate activities, that will not be allowed.”
Spokesperson for the 81 Division, Colonel Mustapha Anka, also absolved the soldiers from the allegation.
He said, “Our officers are only there for anti-vandal operation. The residents are free to engage in lawful activities.”



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