…’We Paid Host Villages Compensations In 1974′ -Poly
…It’s A Lie, Provide Documents, Names Of Beneficiaries -Villagers

By Wole Adedeji, Ilorin

Management of Kwara State Polytechnic has insisted that government in 1974 paid compensations to land owners on which the institution was built.

The school said it paid the natives, who were the host communities, for the land and that a total number of 122 of them were paid.

However, the villagers, in their reactions, described the polytechnic claim of compensation payment, as stated by the institution’s Students’ Director as a “blatant lie,” insisting that the school should for once make public the “valid” documents of the claimed acquisition of their land, as well as the list of those who were paid in 1974, listing their respective villages.

135-year-old Adisa.

Speaking for the school at a press conference in Ilorin, Kwara Poly’s Director of Student Services, Surveyor Abubakar Garba Aremu, said the families who owned lands in which the institution was built were adequately compensated as at July 6, 1974, pointing out that the families had since been asked to move out of the land.

He also disclosed that even then, over 1,000 hectares of land had been encroached upon out of a total land space of 4,500 hectares acquired by government to build the institution.

He appealed to the government to at this point build a perimeter fence for the land he claimed was acquired in 1973.

Surveyor Aremu said construction of developmental projects and erection of other structures had been made hard by the effects of the encroachment activities of the villagers, adding that threats, intimidation and litigations by the villagers had served as stumbling blocks against the plan of the school to establish a School of Agriculture.

He boasted that the school, come what may, would not be deterred to be decisive in its actions.

Modinat and her daughter, after their release from the polytechnic detention.

He said, “Meanwhile, we’ll not be deterred by campaigns of calumny or litigations by people already compensated. Kwara Polytechnic extends to Oyun River Bridge, Oloru, Oke Ose, Dangiwa. So, anyone occupying those areas are occupying Kwara Polytechnic land.”

The institution had in the past two weeks laid siege on Gatta, a very small host community, out of many others in a war-like manner. The siege consists of troops made up of soldiers, police and the men of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps, NSCDC.

They were said to be heavily armed and moved in a convoy of ‘Operation Harmony,’ a state security squad carrying stern faces.

Meanwhile, the school had begun bulldozing the villagers’ land, including a place Gatta community said was their cemetery, where their ancestors were buried all along for about 300 years now.

Another victim of the torture and detention orchestrated by Kwara Poly.

The village had been complaining of brutalisation of their sons, wives and children by the security men, particularly men of the NSCDC, who were specially positioned by the Polytechnic in the village who were alleged to be harassing and brutalising the villagers.

Further reacting to the Polytechnic’s claims, Imam Abdulkareem Ayinde, 135-year-old patriarch of Gatta, said to be the oldest man in all the communities, said there was never a time they had an agreement on their lands with the government, neither was there an event where they were invited to be paid for their lands.

The centenarian who spoke through his grandson, an Inspector of Police; Mr. Saheed Abdulkareem, said, “Iam the oldest man today in this area. I challenge any government man to come and tell me when and where they told us that our land had been taken for this school and that we were paid off and asked to vacate our ancestral home, where we had been for over 300 years.

“Our great grandfathers founded this place as hunters. The same is the case of other villages here. They chose to stay close to 9ne another because of the security at the time, so that they could jointly ward off invaders.

“What they told us was that they were bringing a school that would take civilisation close to us. They never told us they were taking our land from us and chase us away from our ancestral home. It was only in 1976 that we had reason to had cause to discuss with government in the palace of the then Emir of Ilorin, His Eminence, Alhaji Sulu Gambari, may Allah grant him sweet Aljannat.

“The school came to build Quarter ‘C’ on our land and my children then told me. We met them and said no they could not. They went to the Emir, who invited us to the palace with the government people. He pleaded with us to allow them build that one since they had started, and warned them not to go beyond that point and we both, in honour of his majesty, agreed to his request.

“They (the school) had since then kept to the agreement. I am surprised that they are now going outside the agreement to dishonour the Emir. Is it because he had passed on? We were never invited by government to surrender our land and be paid off ever since.” (sobbing).


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