81-year-old man, Adewumi Stephen has reportedly died a wanderer barely three years after his 31-year-old house and Garri processing factory in Akure was demolished in 2019.
Adewumi had lost his stable health to joblessness and homelessness. He had been unable to rest his head in a safe place since the incident of demolition. He eventually reported death a few days ago.
The counsel to Pa Stephen, Barrister Dare Adebayo, had made frantic efforts to meet with Governor Rotimi Akeredolu on the matter, but to no avail.
Barr. Dare urged the government of Ondo to look into the matter to save the life of Mrs. Adewumi—the aged widow the deceased left behind.
Adewumi Stephen, who was 78years old then painfully narrated how Ondo State government demolished his house and 31-year-old Garri processing factory at SIB junction along Federal Secretariat, Igbatoro Road, Akure in Akure South Local Government Area of Ondo State.
He said the reason for the short-noticed demolition was not clear. According to him, a 7-day ultimatum was given to them to vacate the land he had been investing all his life since 1988.
Adewumi Stephen said the land was given to him in 1988 by one Chief Boboye when the whole area was yet a farming area without any dwelling house around it. He added that the area was known as J. Ojo and that he was the first person to start the Garri industry on the land.
The displaced old man, who was a native of Iyamoye in Kogi State, said he and his family abruptly relocated to Akure from Kano state as a result of a crisis in Kano in 1988.
According to him, “When myself, wife and a child abruptly left Kano, we came to Akure. This land was given to us by Chief Boboye of 72A, Odojoka Street in Ijoka Akure as a part of the land owned by their family.
“In the same year, my retirement benefits of about ₦1.5m were paid because I retired from the Nigeria Airways in Kano. When we came on this land, we started sleeping on the flat-surfaced rocks there before we later established a Garri processing place with the money and gradually built a two-room and parlour where we were living until it was utterly demolished on the 13th June” See pictures here
The octogenarian, who said the main reason for the government’s action was equivocally explained to him, alleged that the demolition was personally supervised by the former Ondo State Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Prince Folagbade Amodeni.
“Commissioner Omoseni (Amodeni) supervised the demolition personally. He stated no clear reason for the action. But from the mixed statements, I learnt that it were the elite landlords and neighbours that had gone to report us to him.
“They had once alleged that the water coming from our Garri industry did smell on the tyres of their vehicles whenever they drove pass our route. They also said they suspected that the thieves that came to the area occasionally did hide around my business location. But everybody who knows this area very well can testify to the fact that I had no hiding place or bush around my business and living place.
“I invested so much there. The Garri processing machines were bought at different times with good money. So I, too, wouldn’t joke with security. And I and my family also lived there afterall
“We are about five that have Garri industry here now. I tried as much as I could to guide against possible hazard to my environment. That was why I channeled all the water waste into a covered pit at the back of the business place.
“Since the demolition, it has been difficult for us to leave the location. We are now sleeping on the rocks around the place. No family and nowhere to go. When rain is falling we hide around the fence and walls”, Stephen explained.
Speaking with the producer of Gongo Nso radio programme, Babatunde Bamigboye (Omo Edema) on the incident, the 78-year old man then, who was crying like a baby, said about one hundred people all of which were women—aged widows were working for a living with him in the local factory. According to him one of the women identified as Iya St. Luke died a few hours after she was informed that the place—the source of her daily means of living had been demolished.
The displaced old man explained that though no paper was given to him as an evidence of ownership by his landlord, Chief Boboye and that the landlord and his wife have died.
However, one of the children of late Chief Boboye, Pastor Boboye Omolayo was reached and he said he was aware that his father gave the retired civil servant the land in 1988. He condemned the demolition and described it as evil. He added that those who wanted to chase them away from the land were just trying to cheat on them which he said would not stand.
The destruction of Baba Stephen’s house and Garri processing wing in the area was allegedly carried out on the 13th June by ex-commissioner Amodeni before he (the commissioner) was relieved of the office on the 17th June, 2019 respectively.
Omo Edema, however, visited the Ondo State Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development two times to ascertain the claims of Adewumi Stephen. The new Commissioner in-charge of the ministry was not on seat. Though some sources from the Ministry who craved anonymity confirmed that the exercise was ordered and personally supervised by the former Commissioner Amodeni, but could not state the main reasons behind the demolition.