BY DAUD OLATUNJI
ABEOKUTA — Hundreds of residents and traders in Ijoko area in Ado-Odo/Ota Local Government Area of Ogun State, yesterday, protested against the plan by the state government to further demolish their houses and shops to pave the way for the ongoing road expansion in the area.
The protesters who carried placards with various inscriptions such as “Please don’t demolish our lives”, “We have no other means of survival”, “Stop further demolition of our houses and shops”, said they had suffered so much and lost a substantial part of their property and investments to the initial demolition exercise.
They, therefore, pleaded with Governor Ibikunle Amosun not to embark on further demolition of structures in the area so as not to ruin their lives.
The state government had, two months ago, demolished hundreds of houses in the area for the expansion of the Sango-Ijoko road.
The protesters, however, said Governor Amosun, who visited the area two weeks ago, ordered the contractor to further extend the initial limit of the road and extend the demolition by additional eight metres.
Residents appeal to Gov. Amosun
One of the affected residents, Mr. Bola Akinbiyi, a retired civil servant, said he had lost virtually all he laboured for to the initial road expansion.
Akinbiyi, therefore, appealed to the governor to have a rethink on his fresh order.
He said: “I have 24 shops, they have demolished eight and with the new marking now, they are going to demolish the remaining 16 shops, then I have no hope.
“I am a retiree and this is where I live. I trained my children with the proceeds I collect from my tenants. Some of my tenants have paid and they have no place to go. That is why we are appealing to the government to stop further demolition of buildings along Ijoko road.
“The road should be built within the space created by the first demolition exercise instead of extending it. They did not even explain to us why they are doing another demolition, we believe the first demolition was done by the contractors.
“We plead with our good governor, we know he is working for the progress of the state, but individual progress is important too. We are pleading with him to have mercy on us, especially the people that have shops.
“We have over 1,000 people that have shops here, where are they going to move to? So, they should help us to protect our means of survival.”
Also speaking, another resident, Toyin Akinloye, appealed to the state government to stop the planned demolition.
Akinloye claimed she lost eight shops during the initial round of demolition.
She, however, said that they were in full support of government’s plan to expand the road, adding that a fresh round of demolition of their structures by eight metres would negatively affect their businesses.
“We are okay with the first demolition exercise, but we are surprised that within a month, the government came back and re-marked our buildings,” she said.
Another victim, Mr. Frederick Chukwu, said the initial demolition of the houses and shops in the area had affected their livelihood.
Chukwu said further demolition would lead to a complete loss of their means of livelihood.
He said: “We need help from government on this Ijoko road. These rounds of demolition would be too much. We are appealing to the government to help us because if they demolish everything, we’ll have no means of survival.
“Government should not further demolish our buildings. Many have died as a result of shock over the loss of their property. Let the government stop demolition because the people’s lives will be ruined.”
Reacting to the allegation, the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Alhaji Yusuph Olaniyonu, who expressed doubt that the protest actually took place, said if the protest had taken place it must have been instigated by the opposition.
He said: “You need informed response? Is that not so? However, you have been in Abeokuta all day, so, when did you go to Sango-Ojodu? Let us also be sure that it is not some people who are floating this.
“I cannot imagine this because just this morning I was told of the tremendous turn-out of people from that area coming to take compensation. I was just saying let us even send pictures and story to the correspondents. Well, let me check first with the Ministry of Works and get back to you.”