Hundreds of custodians and worshippers of deities and shrines in Ado Ekiti on Friday protested against the ongoing demolition of some sacred places in the Ekiti capital.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the exercise took a new turn when some protesters engaged bulldozer operators in a bid to prevent further demolition after Thursday’s exercise.
NAN reports that the state government had earlier ignored an appeal by some concerned persons to stop the demolition of traditional sites.
On Thursday, some shops, houses and make-shift stores adjacent the palace of the Ewe of Ado Ekiti, Oba Rufus Adeyemo, were pulled down.
Some residents told NAN that no fewer than 10 houses were brought down during the first day of the exercise on Thursday, while a total of seven tombs were marked for exhumation.
A witness, who pleaded for anonymity, told NAN that as at the close of work on Thursday, no fewer than four corpses had been exhumed, while the remaining were waiting to be exhumed.
The witness said things however took a new dimension on Friday upon the return of two bulldozers to the same area, pulling down structures located close to the two shrines and two sacred trees.
The names of the two shrines were given as “Ogun” and “Ejeye Oka Ere”, located within the premises of the Arowa of Ado Ekiti’s court.
Other witnesses said adherents of the deities prevented the bulldozers from pulling them down.
Armed security men were immediately drafted to the area, including the entrance to the palace of the Ewi, to prevent breakdown of law and order.
It was learnt that the protest eventually led to temporary suspension of work on the shrines.
A family member of one of the deceased whose corpse was exhumed, said the compensation which government claimed it paid did not cover the displacement of corpses or dismantling of shrines.
NAN recalls that the state government had last month claimed it had paid a total of N400 million as compensation to people whose houses were demolished.
The State Commissioner for Lands and Urban Development, Mr Tayelolu Otitoju, said the exercise did not affect Ado Ekiti alone, adding that more than 300 houses had so far been demolished under the exercise across the state.
He gave the names of the cities as Ado Ekiti, Ikere Ekiti, Efon Alaaye, Omuo Ekiti, Ise Ekiti, Emure Ekiti and Ijero Ekiti among other major towns.
The commissioner explained that government embarked on the project to ease traffic congestion and adhere to government’s urban policy..
He also declared that government would not compensate owners of demolished houses that were built on waterways and setbacks, noting that such recalcitrant property owners had been warned in the past. (NAN)
– Apr. 6, 2018 @ 18:23 GMT