OAU accuses community of encroaching on land
The management of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, has warned residents of the town against encroaching on its land, just as it accused alleged speculators and land-grabbers within the community of selling land belonging to it to unsuspecting members of the public.
Addressing journalists on the campus of the university on Monday, the Vice-Chancellor, OAU, Prof. Eyitope Ogunbodede, said the land in question located in the Parakin area of Ile-Ife had been encroached upon by some individuals.
The vice-chancellor, who said some land-grabbers insisted that the expanse of land given to the university by the founding fathers was too large and that the management should be ready to forgo the portion around Parakin.
Ogunbodede stated, “Precisely in 1961 when this university was founded by the government of the then Western Region of Nigeria, the then Ooni of Ife, Oba Adesoji Aderemi, who doubled as the Governor of the Western Region, with the support of the Ile-Ife community, donated the land on which the Obafemi Awolowo University is now situated. The university occupies a land area of 11,961 hectares.
“What we initially thought to be a rumour has now turned to reality as we discovered later that some people have not only encroached on the land, but have been brazenly selling it to individuals, who have now started erecting some structures on it.”
He said the management had held a series of meetings with current Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, and the leaders of the Ile-Ife community, while letters were also written to the monarch with a view to finding amicable resolution of the matter.
Ogunbodede, however, explained that the land, which was gazetted and the institution had exercised ownership for decades without hindrance, was forcefully broken into by the same set of people on April 3, 2019, when the university’s dam was also poisoned.
“Accordingly, with an express mandate from the Federal Government and a marching order from the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, we have already sensitised the general public, particularly by airing jingles in all the radio stations in Osun State, to warn those who have been misled into buying government land that the Federal Government is not only prepared but ready to secure the university land,” the vice-chancellor added.
To reclaim the illegally acquired land, Ogunbodede said all the encroaching structures would be removed, while the entire area would be fenced.
When contacted, Banwo Ogundipe, who spoke on behalf of the Ile-Ife community, accused the OAU management of engaging in blackmail, when the university was indeed the one encroaching on the community’s land.
Ogundipe said, “We have not encroached on the university’s land. We have been on this since 2013. The land in contention has never belonged to the university.
“The last time we met, they brought a gazette of 1961, which we also have. And we were able to prove to them that the land in contention is outside the one given to the OAU by the government. In paragraph 7 of the gazette, there is a map showing the physical boundary.
“We asked the school for the map, but it could not produce it. What they brought was a 1987 map produced by the university. But we produced a 1961 survey map that backed the gazette. If OAU feels that we have encroached on its land, let it go to court.”