Construction workers at the site of a Federal Housing Estate project in Akure, Ondo state capital, on Monday, scampered for safety following the invasion of some traditional worshippers who came to perform an annual ritual at the Estate which is under construction.
The worshippers numbering about 21 women and men were led by Chief Abisoye Adigun of Akure land, arrived at the estate around 9 am with black fowl, white pigeon and other objects to perform the ritual which caused tension and fear among site construction workers for many hours.
The development forced the developers of the Federal Housing Estate, Medaville Building & Construction Co. Ltd to run to the police station to save the situation.
However, the timely intervention of some policemen from the state police headquarters at the site restored normalcy in the estate as the worshippers were invited to the police headquarters for resolution.
Speaking during the meeting with the police, the Managing Director of the Medaville Building & Construction Co. Ltd, Chief Ademola Akin-Benson, alleged that the worshippers were being sponsored by land grabbers to use the ritual to scare construction workers away from the site.
Akin-Benson explained that the land had been legally acquired by the Federal Government for the estate, disclosing that thugs and ritualists had attacked site workers at the estate times without number.
He said the development 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.
In a petition signed by the developer’s lawyer, Mr Femi Emodamori and addressed to the state Commissioner of Police, the Deji of Akure, Oba Ogunlade Aladetoyinbo who was fingered for allegedly sponsoring the ritualists, the lawyer described the invasion of the federal estate site as traditional hooliganism.
The petition read: “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 16, 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.
But while reacting, the leader of the worshipper, Chief Abisoye Asoga said contrary to allegations of land grabbing, it was in the tradition of the town to perform the ritual inside a small rock within the estate, at least once in ten years.
Also speaking, the Deji of Akure, Oba Ogunlade Aladetoyinbo described the allegation by the developer as untrue, noting 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.
He said the Royal Father would not do anything that will distort the peace being enjoyed in the capital city, but vowed to continue to promote and maintain tradition, peaceful co-existence and overall development of the Ondo state capital.