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The government of Ekiti State has issued a stern warning to communities across the state, urging them to cease disputes over land where institutions are situated. Such land conflicts, the government emphasized, have the potential to deter international partners from intervening to develop the education sector.

The state government expressed regret over the increasing incidence of encroachments on school lands, leading to communal strife and violent clashes. These conflicts frequently result in litigation that could impede the government and international agencies from initiating projects in these institutions.

Chief (Mrs) Monisade Afuye, Ekiti State Deputy Governor gave the warning in Ado Ekiti, on Thursday, while mediating in a land dispute between Oloje- Ekiti community and Ayede Grammar School in Oye Local Government Area of the State.

The arbitration stemmed from a petition written by Ayede Grammar School Old Students’ Association, claiming that the people of Oloje were trespassing onto its land, calling on government to address the issue to avert communal strife between the two host communities.

Presiding over the matter, Mrs Afuye, represented by the Permanent Secretary in her office, Mr. Opeyemi Abayomi, said Ayede Grammar School is a prestigious institution that had produced prominent experts in various fields, saying such records must be protected by the host communities.

Calling for swift resolution of the land impasse, the Deputy Governor, said the lingering dispute and the attendant litigation, may restrain the development partners from intervening in the institution’s development phase.

Afuye posited that the Adolescent Girls’ Initiative for Leadership and Education AGILE being funded by World Bank has made appreciable impact in Ekiti schools by initiating landmark projects that have repositioned education sector, but emphasized that such can’t be done in schools that are enmeshed in crises.

She pointed out that the perimeter fencing projects being undertaken in some schools were being spearheaded by the World Bank in collaboration with the state government to reinforce security and ward off encroachments in schools across Ekiti.

“There are ways we can handle this kind of an issue without degenerating into bloodshed or crisis. I appeal to Oloje community to look at the contention of the Old Students and allow the school to take ownership of that portion of land being requested.

“There won’t be peace when we don’t have the spirit of give and take. Let us think of the larger picture, which is the development of that school and the future of our children. Go and resolve within yourselves and whatever you arrive at, the government will implement”.

Speaking on why the petition was initiated, the National President, Ayede Grammar School Old Students’ Association, Prof James Bamidele, said the institution was established between 1956-57, with land apportioned for its establishment well demarcated to enclose area where Katanga Building was erected.

Bamidele, a Professor of Public Health, appealed to government to to beg Oloje community to cede the land where Katanga Hall was built to the school and allow the fencing to extend to that axis of the institution.

The academic added that the institution had been a veritable training ground for many prominent Ekiti indigenes, who are making it big in their different areas specialisation, saying nothing should be done to thwart the efforts being spearheaded to develop the institution.

“People shouldn’t see this as a conflict between Ayede and Oloje Ekiti. Katanga is a building that we have emotional attachment to as alumni. We appeal to government to plead with Oloje to be patient and reading with us that even if that building extends beyond area that was allocated, they should please concede because of the significance of that building to old students”.

In his submission, the Obaloja of Oloje Ekiti, Oba Peter Afolabi Falade, said Oloje donated the land to build the school at inception and that his community won’t take any step to sabotage its development.

The monarch said: “99% of Oloje indigenes attended Ayede Grammar School. Why must we now destroy what we have contributed to build. It was one of the former principals that tried to cause confusion that forced us to go to court against the school.

“Let me also clarify that we didn’t stop the fencing being done in the school by force. We are part and parcel of the school community. We will shift grounds on this matter, so that we can resolve this dispute permanently”.

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