A mild drama played out in Akure, the Ondo state capital today as a group of traditional worshippers reportedly disrupted construction work at the site of a Federal Housing project.
But the timely intervention of the police prevented a bloody clash between them. They reportedly stormed the site to perform traditional rites.
Vanguard gathered that the worshippers numbering over twenty consisting of both men and women were led by Chief Abisoye Asoga, the Adigun of Akureland. They arrived at the site at about 9 am with a black fowl, white pigeon, and other items to perform rituals.
Their arrival at the site caused apprehension among site workers for hours.
Consequently, the developers of the federal housing estate, Medaville Building & Construction Co. Ltd, and its Managing Director, Otunba Ademola Akin-Benson had to lodge a complaint at the state police command
The worshippers and the developer were reportedly taken to the police headquarters for amicable settlement.
The developer Akin-Benson alleged that ” the worshippers were being sponsored by land grabbers to use the ritual at the site to scare away the federal housing estate developer and his site workers.
Akin- Benson said that the land had been legally acquired by the federal government for the estate.
He alleged that several times in the recent past, thugs and ritualists had attacked site workers at the estate, which made him approach the court and the court had ordered all parties including the Deji of Akure, Oba Ogunlade Aladetoyinbo, to maintain the status quo and allow the project to continue.
A petition signed by the developer’s lawyer, Mr. Femi Emodamori described the invasion of the federal estate site as traditional hooliganism.
“The said parcel of land had been acquired with other adjoining lands by the State Government over forty (40) years ago, after payment of compensation to the original owners, and was subsequently released to the Federal Government for federal projects in the State.
“Consequently, according to our clients, the land is covered by Federal Government Layout and also has adjoining Federal Government structures like the State Police Command Headquarter where your office is located.
” The Ondo State Headquarters of the Nigerian Customs Service; The Ondo State Headquarters of Nigerian Immigration Service; The National Population Commission’s Office; and the Federal High Court building, amongst others.
“The Housing Project was awarded to Medaville Building & Construction Co. Ltd by the Federal Government as far back as 2009, through a letter with Reference Number PS/FMHUD/PBDC/328/VOL.I/58, dated 16th June 2009 and signed by the then Hon. Minister of Works and Housing, Chief (Mrs.) Grace Ekpiwhre.
“Our clients stated that construction works had started on the land almost immediately, but later suffered some delays occasioned by inadequate funding. The lease agreement between the Federal Government and our clients on the project was however recently renewed and/or extended, sequel to which massive construction works on the land resumed.
“According to our clients, the Deji of Akure, Oba Aladetoyinbo Ogunlade Aladelusi, had in recent times been sponsoring thugs to disrupt and destroy the project, in connivance with some officers of the Akure Office of the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing, for reasons which the Kabiyesi did not initially disclose, until recently when the Kabiyesi started demanding, both directly and through his proxies, for six (6) acres of land at the project site, as well as some other monetary and material gifts for some traditional ceremonies.
“These demands are unjustifiable, illegal, obnoxious, and purely extortionist. For the avoidance of doubt sir, our clients have Oba Aladetoyinbo Ogunlade on tape making some of these demands, and would never make any allegation against the Royal Father which is not backed with forensic and undeniable evidence,” the lawyer said in the petition.
Reacting, the leader of the worshippers, Chief Abisoye Asoga Adigun of Akureland said contrary to allegations of land grabbing, it was in the tradition to perform the ritual at a small rock inside the estate, at least once in ten years.
Also, the Deji of Akure, Oba Ogunlade Aladetoyinbo described the allegation by the developer as untrue, adding that the land in question belongs to Akure traditional worshippers.
Speaking through his Chief Press Secretary, Michael Adeyeye, the Akure monarch said the ritual at the estate site was in line with the community’s tradition.
Adeleye insisted that the Royal Father would continue to promote and maintain tradition, peaceful co-existence, and overall development of the Ondo state capital.