Another Lagos community reduced to rubbles
By Olasunkanmi Akoni
…Lawmakers summon commissioners, PS
BArely two weeks after residents of Ijora-Badia, a slum dwelling within Iganmu Alawo Community in Apapa Iganmu Local Council Development Area, LCDA, were displaced following demolition of their houses, hundreds of structures allegedly built on government’s land in Odoiragunshi Community in Eredo Local council Development Area of Epe, were on Tuesday brought down.
The demolition, which rendered the occupants homeless, was carried out by a combined team of the Lagos State Task Force on Environment and Special Offences Unit and the Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development.
The bulldozers moved to the site after residents ignored several warning notices by the state government urging them to vacate the acquired land which was said to be captured under the state master-plan for the construction of a modern housing scheme.
The residents, who were apparently in shock, claimed they have necessary documents to the ownership of the land from indigenes of the town about a decade ago.
Before the structures were pulled down, some of the buildings had approved plans boldly written on them but the government in its reaction claimed that those plans were fraudulently acquired from town planning officials.
A top official of the government, who spoke on condition of anonymity, explained that the land was wrongly acquired through what he termed ‘ fly co-ordinate’ to fraudulently obtain the supposed building approval.
Supposed building approvals
“They must have been swindled to acquire the land in the first place…. That is why government always tells them to seek information when acquiring land,” he said.
As the demolition was going on, most of the affected residents rushed to the scene from their various work places; others travelled from as far as Ajah and Ogun State to salvage their properties, while few others who could not bear the shocking reality fainted as they saw what was once their beloved homes reduced to rubbles before their eyes.
The buildings comprising of completed and several uncompleted buildings were totally brought down. One of the affected landlords narrated his ordeal, saying that properties worth hundreds of millions had been destroyed by government.
Mr. Tajudeen Debo, who said he purchased the land from one Alhaji Ashafa, also known as Oloye in 2004 but built his five-bedroom flat in 2007, narrated thus: “I obtained all my papers validly from the government. When they began threatening us we went to Alausa to have a meeting with them but we were told the Permanent Secretary of Land Bureau was not around. So they rescheduled the meeting for March 13; today March 5, they are demolishing our houses.
“They brought a White man to measure my land before this latest action. It is sad that with my children and aged parents I have been chased out of the building I laboured to build to have a decent life. It is painful and regrettable.”
Speaking to Vanguard Metro, the Task Force boss, Chief Superintendent of Police, Bayo Sulaimon, who led the demolition team, said government would not sacrifice the land for the selfish interest of some individuals at the expense of the larger public, adding that the place is meant to be an industrial area that will serve the rest of the residents and the indigenes.
On allegation that information on the demolition came on short notice, Sulaimon said that he had been to the place for more than four times, stressing that the last time government officials came to the community, they were chased away with charms and other weapons.
He said: “How did they come here in the first place? The place has been earmarked for a project and apart from that, they built without approval and government cannot allow individual interest to override public interest. They fly the co-ordinate by taking chart of a location that is free of government acquisition to dubiously get building approval. It is like taken the survey of Oregun to seek government approval on buildings in Alausa.
“Those who are building on government’s land thinking that nothing will happen are in for a shock because government will rise up and take action one day. This is a message for all land grabbers and unsuspecting buyers.
“We have been on it for a very long time, they are only being economical with the truth. I have been here for more than four times. They were probably being cajoled by miscreants called ‘omo onile’ to quickly build on government land, thinking that once the structures are erected nothing will happen. That is the strategy used by miscreants that are selling government land to them. People should seek information from government on any land before paying or building on the land. If they have genuine certificate of ownership before the acquisition by the government, they will be duly compensated.
However, the state House of Assembly, irked by the demolition, has summoned the Commissioners for Physical Planning, Environment and the Permanent Secretary, Lands Bureau over the demolition exercise in Epe-Odo Eragbushi.
Segun Olulade who raised the motion under Matter of Urgent Public Importance during a Plenary Session, explained that he received a call from Odo-Eregbushi despite the fact that investigation on the issue was on-going in the state House of Assembly.
Olulade established the fact that ‘Stay Action’ had been pronounced on this issue to the Ministry of Physical Planning through their Commissioner, Mr. Toyin Ayinde.
House Committee Chairman on Physical Planning, Mufutau Egberongbe, went further to explain that deliberation was adjourned till March 13 for the matter to be concluded, frowning that the ‘Stay Action’ pronouncement was ignored and the demolition carried out.
Sanai Agunbiade, who also contributed to the issue, suggested that henceforth, all ‘Stay Action’ pronouncements should be made in written form to act as evidence. He added that the ministries of Physical Planning, Environment and Lands Bureau should meet and agree on a unifying demolition move so as to work as a single body and get back to the House.
The Speaker of the House, Adeyemi Ikuforiji, added that some of the certificates of occupancy displayed by the residents of the petitions were obtained illegally, saying that the commissioners should appear before the House to shed light on the issue.
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