Popular blind comedian Kelly Igberhi, better known as Kelly Blind, has cried out after his house was demolished, rendering him, his wife, Elizabeth Igberhi, and their 10-month-old daughter, Oghenekevwe Igberhi, homeless.
Kelly, who built his home at Glorious Villa Estate, Awoyaya, said the home, which was built to be disability friendly due to his condition, was demolished on the morning of Tuesday, July 24, 2018. He said residents in his community were driven from their homes and their houses were demolished by police officers.
“I bought the land in 2015 and I’ve been building since 2015. I just moved into that place February this year with my family,” he said.
He said that residents who tried to film the incident were beaten. He was one of those beaten for trying to record police officers as they demolished the houses. The police officers, he said, came with over 20 vehicles for the demolition and it went on for 4 days, from Tuesday to Friday.
“Lagos State Police Task Force, Alausa, are the people who carried out the operation,” he said.
From Tuesday till date, Kelly said he’s been sleeping in his car with his wife and daughter because they have nowhere to go as their family members do not stay in Lagos. He added that the stress has made his daughter ill.
“As I speak to you, we don’t have anywhere to go, we don’t have anywhere to stay,” Kelly Blind told LIB.
He added: “They demolished our house without allowing us take anything out of the house.”
Kelly blames the demolition on Skye Bank, Lekki Gardens, and Lagos State Government. He said the estate was bought by Skye Bank and they sold to Lekki Gardens. The residents got information about that and were working with the parties concerned to reach a conclusion that works for everyone. Then, on Saturday, July 21st, they got an eviction notice asking them all to vacate their homes and lands they built and paid for in full.
Three days after the eviction notice was served, scores of police officers arrived the estate and began demolition.
“We were told It’s Skye Bank and Lekki Gardens and Lagos State Task Force,” Kelly explained. He added that the estate is just behind Lekki Gardens, Awoyaya.
Affected members of the community went to the Lagos State Secretariat in Alausa for a protest on Monday, July 30, but were told to go and meet the “omoonile” who sold the land to them or they could go to Skye Bank to air their grievances.
“Now, I went to Skye Bank office today, Skye Bank said it’s Lagos State Government that demolished our house. Before now, I went to Lekki Gardens, Lekki Gardens said they only bought land from Skye Bank and that they are not aware of the demolition,” The visually impaired comedian said.
He added: “This community I’m telling you about, they demolished all the bungalows but left the storey-buildings and duplexes in the community.”
A month before the demolition, the father-of-one said that they saw over one hundred policemen in the area who came to paste a letter around the estate. He said the officers explained that the letter is a notice of “possession taking”. They went ahead to inform them that the land they live on has been bought and now belongs to Skye Bank.
He said the officers told them they had no idea that lots of people live in the community and now that they are aware, they do not wish to demolish their homes. As a solution, he said the officers asked them to come to their office and “regularize” with them to “rebuy the land from their hand.”
Residents reportedly went to the office at Osapa London, Agungi, as instructed, to discuss the way forward. He said residents offered to pay 1 million Naira each for each plot of land so they can keep their homes.
“We even offered them 1 Million Naira each for each plot of the land for gratification, which is regularization.”
He said they got a letter from them on June 26 concerning the talks they had about the regularization and they believed they were making progress. The residents also replied to the letter but were shocked to later get a “removal order notice” asking them to evacuate.
Kelly said he had spoken with the Skye Bank EIB Trustee and the Commissioner of police and was promised his house will not be demolished.
“I even took the notice to the Commissioner of Police’s office and they told me to ignore this notice that this is trash, that why am I worrying myself when the notice didn’t come from the court. Before then, the Skye Bank lawyer promised me that my property will not be tampered with because of my condition.
“They asked me to snap my building and send to them, that they will do everything to protect my building. And I did. I have all the information, all the chats, the conversation I’ve been having with them before this whole thing… Even after the demolition the lawyer still called me the next day and was asking me if my house was affected. I told him my house is gone. Since that day, he has not picked my call.”
Kelly Blind is asking for justice for himself and other members of his community.
He said: “The full community has been displaced. Over 2,000 people have been displaced and we have nowhere to go.”
He added: “As I speak to you now, I don’t even have a house to stay. You can see my daughter, you can see my wife. We don’t have a place to stay. Once the day darkens, we’ll drive my car to the bush, my wife and daughter will sleep inside the car while me and my guardian will stay outside.
“You can see my daughter is not feeling fine, she’s cold. All the rain and sun, everything is on her body.”