*Your interest ‘ll be protected, Lagos assures
By Olasunkanmi Akoni
Residents of Oke-Egan Community, Kayetoro in Eleko area of Ajah, Lagos, on Friday, stormed Lagos State House of Assembly, Alausa, Ikeja, in a peaceful protest over the demolition of their houses, demanding immediate compensation from the state government.
The protesters claimed that their houses, which were about 400 in number were demolished in the early hours of Monday, February 8, 2021, without any cogent reason or known violation of any state building law.
The apparently, distraught residents, who chanted various protest songs, carried placards with different inscriptions.
Some of the inscriptions read; “We have been demoralized, nowhere to go, we need back our properties, our government has made its citizens helpless, we want our land back and we are low-income people made homeless.”
Others include: “Our hearts bleed,” we now roam on the street with nowhere to stay, our children are crying, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, your children are homeless, and our government should come to our rescue.”
The leader of the protesters, Mr Etim Odiase, claimed that they were never served any notice, but only heard of the issue by words of mouth.
Odiase, in an interview with newsmen, said following threats, residents engaged the services of a lawyer, who went to the office of the Surveyor-General of the state on Friday last week, but was told that there was nothing.
“But, as of Monday morning by 3 am, they brought bulldozers and levelled about 400 completed houses and we are now on the streets.
“We were never told nor aware that the land had been acquired by the state government. Some of us from the community was told that the land was not under government acquisition.
“We want to know the reason the houses were demolished. We don’t know what is going on, we were never given any legal notice. Most of us are now on the streets and in hotels.
“We spent millions of naira on the houses, some of us have been living there for over 10 years. We just want to hear from the government the reason the houses were demolished.
“We want compensation from the government. We want the community back,” he said.
Also, another victim, Mr Damilare Temitope James, who said that he did his findings from the office of the Surveyor-General of the state and was told that the land was “ratifiable.”
Temitope stressed that he was told that the land had not been committed to any public use.
“They rendered us homeless and destroyed our property worth billions of naira. We want them to come and help us. Sanwo-Olu should come to our aid.
“We want Governor Sanwo-Olu to restore our land to us, we want the Governor to give us global Certificate of Occupancy over the land as a compensation for demolishing our houses, for putting us in emotional trauma and for putting our mothers in problem,” he pleaded.
Temitope said further that a letter was given to a member of the state House of Assembly, Fatal Mojeed, representing Ibeju-Lekki Constituency 1 who promised there would be no problem on the issue.
“The Surveyor General of the state promised us that our land would be free, the General Manager of NTDA promised us that our land would be free, but overnight they came with members of the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) and men of the state task force to destroy our properties,” he lamented.
Pastor Abiodun Ajayi, whose house was also demolished in the area, said that it was painful for someone’s house to be demolished in his presence.
Ajayi stated that many of their parents and wives were now in the hospitals and that many of their children now sleep outside.
“My house was the first to be demolished and we couldn’t take anything away from the house. They got there at 3 am and they started the demolition by 5 am. They came with thugs and we could not talk.
“We have been coming here, we wrote letters and Oba Rilwanu Akiolu of Lagos also wrote a letter on our behalf. We wanted to be lawful.
“They didn’t need the land for any industry, they said it is meant for one Idera Housing Scheme. It is painful that we that are citizens, and voted for them were treated like this. See what they did to us. Over 400 houses were demolished.
“They said in the news yesterday that those of us living they’re are thugs, but you can see the houses. They should listen to us. After the #EndSARS protest and COVID-19, when people have lost their jobs, see what has happened,” he said.
Addressing the protesters, the Speaker of the House, Mudashiru Obasa, appealed to the protesters to remain calm and be peaceful, adding that the House would address their grievances.
Obasa, represented by Lukmom Olumoh, representing Ajeromi/Ifelodun Constituency I, said that the matter would be addressed amicably.
He said: “I am here on behalf of the Speaker, Hon. Mudashiru Obasa and he has requested me to meet you and hear your grievance.
“The House of Assembly is your House and you voted us to protect your interest and you can rest assured that your interest will be protected.
“This is because nobody in Lagos can treat the people of Lagos unlawfully on his or her property.
“You can have the best of assurance that this matter will be looked into critically by the House.
“I can assure you that very soon, you will get a favourable response and all I can tell you now is that let us be law abiding and we should not take laws into our hands.”
The Speaker said that no matter how frustrated the situation might look like, he begged them to return to their place of abode and present your presentation before Monday.
Obasa said they would carefully look into their petition so that those that were concerned would be called upon and the community would also be represented for the House to find common solution and workout modality for a “win-win terms.”
He said as long as they were lawfully occupying the parcel of land where they built their homes, nobody has the right to demolish their abode.
According to him, “however, we will look into it, but be law-abiding and peaceful and the Assembly will attend to whatever the grievances are.
The speaker assured the protesters that the Assembly was noted to always take the side with the people of Lagos, adding that they would never support any act that would render people homeless.