Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s attempt to dislodge a police team enforcing a Supreme Court judgment at Magodo Phase 2 Estate in Lagos on Tuesday, January 4, 2021 was met with stiff resistance.
The officers first showed up last month to assist in pulling down properties within the estate on behalf of the Shangisha Landlord Association who won a land dispute against the state government at the apex court.
Affected residents of the estate have since been appealing and protesting to the government to intervene and stop the attempts to demolish their buildings.
Governor Sanwo-Olu visited the estate on Tuesday to order the police officers to engage, but a Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP) that led the team rebuffed the governor.
The CSP said he was there on orders of the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, and can only be ordered to stand down by them.
When the governor told him to call his superiors that he’s been ordered to stand down by the chief security officer of the state (referring to himself), the officer said he was too low-ranking to make such a call and told the governor to call his superiors instead.
Sanwo-Olu remarked that he had already spoken to Baba and Malami, and that both are unaware of the ongoing police action, but this did not deter the police team.
“I don’t know what other interest they have beyond just keeping the peace of the country.
“This is not an expectation that I expect from them, because they don’t have any business here,” he told journalists present during the confrontation.
The Shangisha Landlord Association claims the Supreme Court judgement mandated the Lagos State government to give back 549 plots to the association after a prolonged ownership battle.
The group claims the government forcefully took the disputed plots between 1984 and 1986 on the pretext they would be used for the construction of an international standard hospital but instead converted for personal interest.
The first lawsuit to reclaim the plots of land was filed in 1988, according to the association’s chairman, Adebayo Adeyiga.
The Lagos State High Court in 1993 gave a mandatory injunction order for the government to allocate 549 plots on the land in dispute to the association, and this was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2012 following repeated appeals against the judgment.
The Lagos State government frustrated repeated requests for the enforcement of the judgment until last month’s action when police officers aided the Shangisha Landlord Association to start marking homes for demolition.
Addressing concerned residents after Tuesday’s confrontation, Governor Sanwo-Olu said the security operatives will stand down while all parties involved in the conflict engage in reconciliation talks in his office on Wednesday, January 5.
“War doesn’t take anybody anywhere. It is on the table that we will all resolve it,” he assured them.