Residents of Feru, Ado-Odo Local Government Area, Ogun, on Friday decried the destruction of the Oguntedo-Feru road by land grabbers.
The residents, who spoke to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), in separate interviews, appealed to the government to bring the perpetrators to book.
They alleged that, on Jan. 20, some land grabbers brought bulldozers to damage the road, thereby disrupting economic activities in the affected area.
The 2.5 kilometer road is said to be the major access road linking Itele communities to Idi-Iroko, Iyesi town and Atan, and facilitates the economic activities of the people living in the area.
Mr Lateef Odunfa, an indigene, said when the road was constructed people were excited as it boosted the economic activities of the residents.
Odunfa said residents of the community were, therefore, appealing to government at all levels to look into the case and come to their aid to avoid blood shed in the community.
He said some land grabbers had been harassing residents and disrupting their economic activities until they eventually came with caterpillars to destroy the road.
He said people were scared to come out because more than 15 bullets were shot into the air by the land grabbers, who were said to be accompanied by some police officers.
He said the land grabbers had no business in the area apart from tormenting the residents and grabbing their land.
When NAN correspondent visited, the road was divided into two at three different points, making it impossible for vehicles to pass through the entire stretch of the road.
Mr Gafaru Tijani, Baale, Lafenwa, Itele, said the road that was damaged was of immense benefit to all the people living within the area.
Tijani urged the government to bring to book the perpetrators of the act of vandalism.
Mr Mutui Adeyemi, Baale, Oguntedo, Feru Village, wondered if anyone had the guts to damage the road if it had been constructed by the government.
‘’Why should the road constructed by an individual that benefits the whole community be maliciously damaged by land grabbers?” he asked.
The road was said to have been constructed by Alhaji Gbenga Ibuoye of Gbenga Ibuoye Nigeria Limited.
Ibuoye said his company decided to construct the road in 2019 as part of its contribution towards the development of the community, as his company operates a small scale mining site in Feru.
Ibuoye said road was constructed over a swampy land, hence it was refilled with several trips of sand and graded.
He said the construction of the road, which cost his company N336 million, lasted two years, and that it was after the completion that the land grabbers appeared.
Ibuoye said the road was to facilitate movement to a mining site allocated to him by the Federal Ministry of Minning and Steel Development as part of its Small Scale Mining initiative, in accordance with the Ministry of Minerals and Minning Act 2007.
He said the site, which was approved for laterite mining, with title number 31053 SSML, benefitted about 300 people who work at the mine.
He said the action of the land grabbers was one too many as they had at several times harassed and assaulted him.
“But damaging the road should not be taken lightly by the government and those involved should be punished,” he said.
He stressed that the damage amounted to economic sabotage, which was punishable under the law.
According to Ibuoye and residents, the interest of the land grabbers is the mining site, which they claimed originally belonged to them.
Meanwhile, an officer at the Itele Police station, who declined to be mentioned because he is not authorised to speak on the issue, said on the day the road was reported damaged, about 60 Policemen were drafted from Zone 2, in Lagos, to help maintain peace in Feru.
He said he was not aware that any damage was done to the road.
SP Abimbola Oyeyemi, Police Public Relations Officer, Ogun, when contacted, said he had not been informed about the case.