“Residents of Opere Street in Lagoon View Estate, Ibeshe, Ikorodu have accused the Lagos State Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development of illegally demolishing their properties under the influence of a land grabber.”- The Nation
They said they learnt that their homes were destroyed to make way for a five-star hotel on the waterfront area.
16 houses and other structures in the Estate were pulled down on August 16, 2017 allegedly by 36 armed policemen and civilians led by Task Force officials from the ministry.
Those affected told The Nation yesterday that the demolition was followed a petition claiming that the lands were not theirs.
They said they were never informed by the ministry that someone was contesting the ownership of their lands.
But in a swift response, Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Mr Abiola Anifowoshe, faulted the residents’ claim.
He explained that they were warned before the demolition and that the exercise followed all legal processes.
“The Ministry had the Governor’s approval to remove illegal structures at Ibeshe. All the necessary statutory notices had been served before the removal,” Anifowoshe told The Nation.
But, Victor Armstrong, whose fence enclosing two plots of land was pulled down, said some of the policemen that partook in the demolition, confirmed the existence of a petition during their protest on August 28, 2017 at the Ministry’s head office in Alausa.
“Our properties are not under any litigation whatsoever. Most of us have building approvals and those who don’t have yet, had already commenced the process for obtaining theirs. They had paid the required fees to the ministry before the demolition occurred.
He added: “When they came, no one was allowed in or out of the street, they ordered everyone to pick whatever we could in 10 minutes and get out. We tried to start recording but they seized our phones and smashed it to pieces.
“They asked us if we did not get any notice. They brought one out and showed us. They said they had ‘orders from the top’ to demolish our structures, because the area had been reserved for a five-star hotel.
Solarin Segun, whose property was also demolished, said their lawyers had petitioned Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of .
A mother of three, Mrs Abiodun, whose home was also pulled down begged the government to not allow her “suffer in vain.”
She said: “Please help us, so we won’t suffer in vain. How will my children go back to school? I don’t have a dime in savings. We built this house with all we had. They didn’t allow me to celebrate Sallah in my house.
“I was at home with my 15-day old baby when they arrived. I had just finished breastfeeding her and was trying to sleep when I saw about 10 policemen surround our house. They came with Lagos State Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development vehicles. The policemen hit my front door and shouted that I should pack my things and leave. ‘What is happening?’ I asked. They said they were there to demolish my house. My husband had gone to work, so I went to my neighbour’s house opposite mine to find out what was going on.
“They had collected people’s phones and broke them or threw them in the bush to prevent us from recording what was going on. They began demolishing our buildings and threatened to arrest us if we interfered. They destroyed many houses, many big houses. I was only able to bring out my baby and other baby things that I could hold with my other hand before they demolished my house. They destroyed every other thing in the house.
“Some of them covered their faces, but I recognised one of them. I saw him hanging around our houses several times some weeks ago and challenged him. He said there was no problem, that he just came to check something. They gave us no notice that they were coming to demolish our homes.
“Some time ago, an unsigned piece of paper was pasted on some buildings on our street, saying the houses didn’t have building approval. But when we took the document to the Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development, we were told the notice didn’t come from them. The officials we met pointed out that apart from it not being signed, the document also didn’t have an address and stamp.”
Source: The Nation
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