After 23 years of legal tussle, opponents bulldoze Kwara community
No fewer than 80 people, including adults and children, have been rendered homeless at Ara Village in Moro Local Government Area of Kwara State, near the Kwara State Polytechnic, Ilorin.
The distraught victims wept profusely when journalists visited the community on Thursday, regretting that they had become homeless in their ancestral homes.
An indigene, Mr. Oseni Olayinka, said no fewer than 80 persons were rendered homeless following the destruction.
He said the residents were surprised when some hefty men, accompanied by some policemen, pulled down their houses, claiming to execute a court judgement.
Olayinka said properties worth several millions of naira were destroyed, while important documents and valuables were either destroyed or missing.
The legal counsel to Ile Atele family of Ara Village, Mr. Gabriel Ademola-Bank, said there had been a protracted legal battle spanning the Upper Area Court to the Supreme Court over the ownership of the land between the two families of Ile Atele and Ile Tuntun.
Ademola-Bank said the residents lost about N100m worth of valuables as a result of the destruction.
He said, "The case started in 1994 between the families. The case ran through all the courts of the land, the Upper Area Court where the case started from, the High Court appellate session, the Court of Appeal, Ilorin Division and to the Supreme Court.
"All these courts affirmed the decision of the first court, which was that the plaintiff - Ile-Atele and Ile Tuntun - should maintain the portions allotted to them.
"Early this year, they have been making moves to execute judgement. My stand had been that the judgement is clearly stated, which means that for the past 23 years, the parties had already known where the court allotted them.
"Without any notice or recourse to us, with the supervision of the police, 18 hefty men with sledge and hammer entered into the land and demolished all the houses there. The level of demolition in that village is disheartening and unbelievable.
"The losses are in range of N50m to N100m."
The Kwara State Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Ajayi Okasanmi, said the police was not involved in the destruction of the buildings.
The counsel to Ile Tuntun family at the Supreme Court, Mr. Tunde Olomu, said his clients did a legal act by executing the judgment of the Area Court and also as affirmed by the higher courts, including the Supreme Court.
He said, "After the judgment of the Supreme Court, we had some meetings where I pleaded with them that they should not destroy the ancestral place of my clients because part of their houses were also on my client's land.
"My clients said even when we were in court, their opponents had been selling part of the portion of land given to them.
"It is like the other family members were being misled that the judgement was in their favour and that my client had no land.
"The action of my client is legal. They enforced court judgement. Notice was given to these people that are making noise. They did not take any action until execution was carried out."