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Dangote Land Dispute: Traditional Rulers Defy Lagos` Threat To Withhold Allowances

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Three local chiefs in Ibeju-Lekki, Lagos State have called the bluff of the state government which vowed not to pay their allowances because of their opposition to plans by billionaire businessman, Aliko Dangote, to build a refinery on their land without an appropriate agreement or compensation. The chiefs, who are called by the traditional name of Baale, insisted that they would not be cowed into abandoning claims to their land without proper documentation.

The three chiefs, Moibi Apena (Baale of Fowoseje village), Julius Samuel (Baale of Pankere village) and Idowu Ajina (Baale of Kajola village), accused the state government of deliberately excluding them from the payment of allowances to traditional heads of various communities in the state. They stated that their official victimization would not discourage their communities from seeking a proper agreement before leaving the disputed land to Mr. Dangote.

All three chiefs said they were aware that the government's action was to punish them for not going along with the state government's desire to forcibly wrest the land from their communities in order to give it to Mr. Dangote

They said the government had not paid them for more than a year. A state government source, who asked for anonymity, confirmed that the three chiefs were viewed as “unduly stubborn” because of their opposition to the state government's plan to assign the disputed land to the billionaire businessman through the Lekki Free Zone Limited.

The inhabitants of the three villages said they had requested for a gazette to document the portion of land needed for Mr. Dangote's refinery and to specify the conditions for the issuance of the land to the businessman. According to them, the state government decided to play tough in order to avoid addressing the communities' concerns.

Members of the communities allege that the government had used the Nigerian police and soldiers to harass, detain and torture some of their outspoken inhabitants. They also stated that law enforcement agents and soldiers had been used to forcibly eject some of them from their homes in order to hand over their land to Mr. Dangote.

Sahara Reporters