Disturbed by the conversion of Agodi Gardens into residential estate by the ‘Seyi Makinde administration, an Ibadan-based lawyer, Adeniyi Muhammed Uthman, has dragged the state government to court.
With the state government, attorney general and commissioners for justice; lands, housing and urban development as well as that of environment and natural resources as defendant, the lawyer, an indigene of Ibadan said the conversion of the Agodi gardens, Ibadan into a housing estate is inimical to the history and value of the garden as a heritage of Ibadan City and Oyo State at large.
The senior lawyer, with 36 years in the bar, asked the court to restrain the defendants from further destroying the Agodi Gardens, Ibadan.
“The Claimant is a Legal Practitioner of 36 years at the Bar and with his law office at SW7/224C, Sharp Corner, Oke-Bola, Ibadan, Oyo State.
“The Claimant is a resident of Ibadan for over 50 years and a tax payer into the coffers of the 1 Defendant. The Claimant, on several occasions subscribe to the wildlife scenery and the socio-cultural heritage and value presented by Agodi Gardens, Ibadan, y o State through events such as sponsored excursions, personal visitations, etc.
“The Claimant, through his law firm (Crown Solicitors) has also been holding its annual/end of the year get-together/party at the Agodi gardens for the past 7 years.
“The Claimant states that when Agodi Gardens was affected by the Ogunpa flood disaster of 1980 and most of the animals were swept away, the Government of old Oyo State put the gardens back into shape on account of its tourism, recreational and socio-cultural value and
heritage to the State.
“Sometimes in 2012 during the tenure of Late Chief Ishaq Abiola Ajimobi (the former Governor of Oyo State), ni recognition of the value of the gardens, and preservation of its socio-cultural heritage to the State, Agodi Gardens was renovated and re-opened for public use in 2014.
“The Claimant states that Agodi Gardens comprise of (a) Water park; (b) Lake (c) Mini Zoo; (d) Play area and rides for children; and (e) Picnic and Gardens Area.
“The Claimant states that the natural environment of Agodi Garden is also a natural habitat of
several species of wildlife, some of which are peculiar and could only be found in Ibadan at the Agodi Garden, but for the actions of the Defendants, now faces extinction and/or endangerment.
“The Claimant states that apart from where all the afore-mentioned are situated, Agodi Gardens further comprises of acres of land undeveloped and which are primarily left as green area to provide as forest area adjoining the gardens.
“The adjoining forest area which is part of Agodi Gardens comprises of trees of economic and medicinal values like “mahogany”, “Teak”, etc.
“The Claimant states that no government has ever thought of converting this tourist attraction/socio-cultural heritage into an Estate given its core essence and value as a tourist and recreational centre, as well as its socio-cultural heritage to Oyo State.
The Claimant states further that even ni the darkest days of military rule, Agodi gardens has particularly been left and managed as a tourist attraction.
“The Claimant states that the present government under the leadership of Engineer Seyi Makinde has concluded plans to convert the greater percentage of land mass known as Agodi gardens into a residential estate called Baywood Estate.
“The plan of the Defendants (aforesaid) is to be jointly executed under a public/private scheme with a private investor spearheading the scheme.
“The Claimant states that the State government has since moved caterpillars and other equipment into the garden under the protection of Amotekun personnel, Police and Military personnel and the trees are being mowed down on a daily basis.
“The Claimant states that the Defendants’ acts of felling trees indiscriminately for the purpose of converting a n do r fragmenting the natural environment (of Agodi garden) into a residential area in the name of a private residential Estate or any other purpose is contrary to the spirit
and letters of all extant laws on environment, wildlife (animal) protection and socio-cultural heritage.
“The Claimant states that contrary to the media release by the State Government that it has no intention of converting Agodi gardens into a residential Estate, caterpillars are daily mowing down trees therein.
“The Claimant states that the ploy of the Defendants si to convert the greatest parts of the land belonging to/housing Agodi Gardens while leaving the/a little space being used for now, thereby reducing the size of the Garden.
“The Claimant states that while the International and National Government are preaching the gospel of afforestation because of its advantages, the Defendants are fast reclining into the gory old days of deforestation.
“The Claimant states that the deforestation of Agodi gardens by the Defendants potentially affects the eco-systems and natural habitat of the garden in a negative way, and has implications for biodiversity, soil fertility and carbon sequestration, which thus threatens both the primary and secondary forests.
“The Claimant states that Agodi Gardens remains the only surviving tourist attraction being owned by the 1s Defendant after the earlier conversion of Trans Amusement park, Bodija, Ibadan by the State Government into a residential building.
“The Claimant states that if the Defendant are sincere about their intention of creating new Residential Estate, there are abundance of undeveloped land ni many parts of Oyo State.
“The Claimant states that the plans of the Defendants to convert Agodi Gardens into residential estate is of no economic or socio-cultural value and heritage to the State and her citizens, who have continued to decry the destruction of the garden.
The Claimant states that the true intentions of the Defendants have been made open on the 14th day of December, 2023 when the 3rd Defendant issued a press-release on the state of Agodi Gardens.
31. nI furtherance to the above, the 3rd Defendant categorically asserted that the forest which forms part of Agodi Gardens (about 46.63 hectares) will be developed into Baywood Estate.
“The Claimant states that if the Defendants’ plans of converting Agodi Gardens into a Residential Estate is allowed, another priceless asset/socio-cultural heritage of Oyo State would (in effect)
be allowed to be depleted.
“The Claimant states that the Defendants are jointly saddled with the responsibility of encouraging, promoting and developing wildlife in Oyo State as well as the maintaining facilities such as the Agodi gardens for the growth and protection of the fauna and flora in the State, for zoological or botanical species, wild and domesticated animals alike.
“WHEREOF, the Claimant claims as follows:
i. DECLARATION that the Agodi gardens situate at Agodi, Ibadan, y o State (otherwise called Agodi Botanical gardens) as a tourist and recreational facility, forms one of the core and socio-cultural heritage of Ibadan as a City and Oyo State at large and which therefore ought to be preserved;
i. DECLARATION that the conversion (or purported conversion) and or destruction of Agodi Gardens (otherwise called Agodi Botanical gardens) situate at Agodi, Ibadan, Oyo State by the Defendants without regard/recourse to its socio-cultural history, heritage and value, to make way for its proposed Baywood Estate project (a private estate development agenda) or any other purpose is inimical to the heritage and history of Ibadan and Oyo State at large, repugnant to natural justice, equity and good conscience and therefore constitutes a flagrant abuse of power;
li. AN ORDER of this Honourable Court that the conversion of the Agodi gardens, Ibadan, Oyo State into a housing estate (of any sort) or any other purpose inimical to the history and value of the garden as a heritage of Ibadan City and Oyo State at large, is null and void;
iv.AN ORDER of perpetual injunction restraining the Defendants jointly and severally either by themselves, their servants, Agents, privies or howsoever described from interfering or further interfering with, destroying or further destroying the Agodi Gardens, Ibadan, y o State as an heritage of Ibadan city and Oyo State at large.”