By Olasunkanmi Akoni
LAGOS â€” THE Lagos State government yesterday commenced the demolition of thousands of illegal structures and shanties at the notorious Akanimodo and Ajelogo Markets of Mile-12, in Agboyi-Ketu Local Council Development Area, LCDA, located off-Ikorodu Road.
During the demolition, dangerous weapons such asÂ cutlasses, axes, special fashioned knives, charms, toy guns were said to have been recovered.
Thousands of illegal occupants were displaced in the early hour operation jointly carried out by the Lagos State Task Force on Environmental and Special Offences (Enforcement Unit), Governorâ€™s Monitoring Team, GMT; men of the Nigeria Police and officials of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, LASTMA.
The task force unit rolled out bulldozers to commence a week long exercise following failure of the residents to heedÂ earlier quit notices by the state government.
Among the illegal structures demolished were churches, clinics, pharmaceutical shops, restaurants among others.
It was gathered that the area was originally and specifically designed for market purpose but was later converted into residents and other purposes.
The exercise being carried out on the orders of the governor, was part of the on-going efforts to rid Lagos State of shanties and illegal structures as well as enforce the state environmental laws. It also targeted at ridding the area of miscreants who used the place as hideouts.
Dens of criminals
According to a source, â€œAkanimodo and Ajelogo area is a den of criminals where young boys and girls are being trained in criminal acts as well as a place where armed robbers and assassins lived as it provides save haven for them.â€
The team which was led by Chief Superintendent of Police, Bayo Sulaiman, was said to have stormed the location at about 6.30 am and begun the demolitions.
Passers-by and the occupants watched helplessly as what used to be their abode went down into rubbles.
Many of the residents who spoke to Vanguard while packing their property, lamented their plights, saying, they had nowhere to live as they had been living there for years.
â€œIt was like a dream when they arrived this morning and we saw them pulling down all these buildings (pointing to the demolished structures). We thought they would never come as being the usual practice where they always threatened to come and would never show up.â€
There was no resistance
According to the task force boss, â€œthere has been no resistance so far and we are not expecting any because they were duly informed by their leaders who we had several meetings regarding the need for this exercise. We informed them that all the illegal structures in the area would be demolished..
â€œYou can see that most of them had parked all their wares and those who are yet are making arrangement for it before the bulldozer will get to them. It is easier for us to carry out the exercise without people complaining that their goods were destroyedâ€ .
It was gathered that prior to the task force arrival, the Baale of the area, who simply identified himself as Fatai Baale, had earlier warned the occupants to be ready and move their property or risked being destroyed in the process.
One of the affected occupants, Thompson John, from Kogi State, said although they were informed, they did not know that it would be so soon.
â€œWe were informed that the structures were illegal but we did not know that it is going to be soon like this, especially on a Sunday morning when most of the traders have gone to church or resting at home,â€ he said.
It was, however, learnt that the after demolition exercise the state government intends to build an ultra modern market. A compiled list of genuine occupants of the market is on going with the aim of allocating same to them when fully completed.