Exemption to the Land Use Decree

This past week has been crazy but hugely rewarding. I am glad that my decision to inform people of recent murders at Alapata, Toro generated so much interest.

I remember a few people who are aware of Modakeke/Ife crisis over land ownership were in awe – surprised this old age conflict hasn’t been put to rest.

Well, it hasn’t reached full-blown since the recent one was settled in 2000. Having said, that there has always been perpetual killings going on that our newspapers  don’t carry.

On Monday at 8:45 am, a friend texted to say hello, the last line of her message reads “Please pray for Ife/Modakeke.” The few words say a lot than to ignore.

A few calls later, I learnt 2 (or 3) people were killed at Alapata, Toro – a man on his Okada carrying a student. They were killed by the Ifes who were on their way to Toro.

Toro is a village in Modakeke.

Thankfully, with the help of telecommunications, enough people were informed to drive away the land grabbers so it did not go further.

Given the way human lives are so cheap in my part of the country – nobody is supposed to talk about this, after all the ‘Elders’ intervened in the end.

Hearing this, I went on the Nigeria FB page to talk briefly about this especially to inform those that are not aware of the perpetual killings over farmland is still an issue.

What ensued was several messages exchange – some helpful, lots were reciting 1400 history but others were only there to say how dare I brought this ‘forgotten’ issue to limelight even though I reiterate that was a few days ago incidence.

At the end of these exchanges, I learned a few things:

1. Nigeria government must do more to clear up the ambiguity of the Land Use Decree of 1978. A few Ife guys who contributed to the FB thread thought the rent over 200/300 years must continue and if Modakeke did not oblige, bloodletting will continue.

This begs the question – Who owns all the land within Nigeria territory? This question seems to cause more uproar than the deaths of the people but if Ile Ife benefited financially from federal purse, why should it exempt from the Land Use law?

And if indeed compensation must be paid, how many lives do we need to sacrifice before government intervene?

2. An academic paper by Dr Oyerinde was pulled up. In this, the author looked at two different villages in Nigeria and how land ownership conflicts have been resolved in the past. The problem with this paper was that the author was comparing two completely different scenarios – Famia is a village within Modakeke town and has been the case for the last 300years or so while Ominigbo is a village on its own founded 65 years ago (?)

The author’s report of 1997 – 2000 crisis confirmed my suspicion. This was a recent and most brutal crisis to have happened. The author mentioned 5000 people were killed in Famia when no single soul was injured and in fact this is the place most people in town were heading for refuge during the crisis, I know this because I was one of the crowd.

This bothered me – if academic paper failed to report obvious facts, what hope do we have?

All in all, I learned that the only way to get our ‘Elders’ to see this perpetual killings as crime against humanity is to keep talking about it and if they are our elders enough, something permanent must be done.