Take It Back Movement joins Iwerekun, Solu Orunmija, Other Communities, Protests Imminent Threat Of Demolition

Residents of Iwerekun, Solu-Orumija, Awofin, and Odusina Villages under Ibeju Lekki local government in Lagos state, were joined by the Take It Back Movement to protest the proposed realignment of the Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway.

The Take It Back Movement along with the embattled communities led protests, ensuring that their impassioned cry for justice was heard far and wide, rallying local and international media to capture the intensity of their cause. The demonstrators brandished striking placards, emblazoned with powerful messages such as “The preservation of ancestral homes is more valuable than the cost of realigning the road,” “Tinubu, defend our homes from destruction,” and “Federal Government, listen to the people and preserve the original alignment of the Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway.”

In his passionate address during the protest, National Coordinator of the Take It Back Movement, Sanyaolu Juwon bemoaned the potential loss of thousands of homes and centuries of history in the face of the proposed realignment. He revealed that their village, with its roots tracing back over 500 years, risked erasure from the map. With this plea for intervention, Sanyaolu elucidated the significance of the protest, stating that it sought to draw the government’s attention to the dire situation.

Sanyaolu further explained that the remoteness of the government often prevents them from being aware of the challenges that rural communities like theirs face. He asserted that the protest was a necessary outcry to make their plight heard and to urge the government to act in their best interests. Sanyaolu cited the example of villages in Oyo state that successfully averted demolition by banding together and making their voices heard.

Adding weight to their protest, the Iwerekun, Solu-Orumija, Awofin, and Odusina communities jointly released a statement, signed by their respective Baales, that outlined their shock and dismay at the sudden change of plans for the coastal road, which now threatened to erase their ancestral villages.

The statement read, “We cry out today as people under an emergency situation. We the inhabitants of the following coastal villages; Iwerekun, Awofin, Odusina and Solu Orumija are currently facing extinction of our approved village excisions by the whimsical realignment of the proposed coastal road site.

“We are overjoyed that, at last, we are witnessing the commencement of the Coastal Road construction which was long anticipated. However, we are saddened by the sudden realignment of the proposed Right of Way (RoW) upon commencement of the road construction. We have maintained the old site lying in the swamp behind our villages untouched for over 30 years since it was marked, but we are shocked at the sudden change of the road path which is now directly running through the village.

“While we do not have a problem if the road would expand either ways to claim some added portion to the old site as known in order to accommodate rail track or other transportation facilities, it is however not the case as a new 100meters site is suddenly marked within the village for the road afresh from the previous 90meters. This is done while abandoning the old site that we all know. Please note that after observing the required setback from the shoreline, the village is only about 150 meters left in entire width. Within the 150meters, there is another setback from both the community road at the front and the setback for the Coastal Road behind, which makes the useful land in the village to be about only 100meters. The new 100meters RoW marked out in the village will therefore wipe out the entire villages.

“Although some other communities have sufficient widths that can accommodate a fresh 100meter and still have some width left to continue to exist, such is not the case with Iwerekun, Solu Orumija, Awofin and Odusina as the new realignment leaves almost nothing left for us to continue to exist.

“Asides the new 100meters marking into the village, there is also about 72meters gap created between the old and new site, which makes the entire land claimed from the village running into about 270meters.”

The communities posed several pressing questions, including: what is to become of the old site, now abandoned; are villagers now permitted to return to their original homes, since the Government has decided to acquire new land; why has the Government failed to address this crucial matter, leading to suspicions of ulterior motives in the new road design; and why was there no consultation with the residents prior to the redesign, to allow for their inputs and ensure the new design did not result in the complete annihilation of their communities?

“The two questions we ask are as follows:

What purpose will the old site now serving as it is now abandoned? Are villagers now allowed to shift back into the old site since the Government is taking a new one? The Government has been silent on this particular question and it makes us suspect some foul play.
Why was there no consultation with the people ahead of the new road design to allow for their inputs to accommodate the new redesign without entirely wiping out communities?

“Our palace, houses, farmlands, school, hospital have now been marked for demolition. We call on the Federal Government of Nigeria led by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the Honorable Minister for Works, Mr. Dave Umahi as well as all well-meaning Nigerians to rise to our plight as we are facing an emergency situation. Simply yield to our cry and take the simplest solution of reverting back to the old design of land still preserved in the swamp undisturbed.”


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