Officials of the Lagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA) yesterday shut down five commercial banks and over 80 buildings on Allen Avenue, Ikeja over illegal conversion.
The officials, who were accompanied by the Lagos State Environment and Special Offences Enforcement Unit, also shut Adebowale Electronics, Panasonic and several other buildings used for commercial purposes.
The commercial banks, whose branches were shut down, are Zenith Bank Plc, Access Bank Plc, Sterling Bank Plc, Unity Bank Plc, and UBA Plc.
The operation began from Allen Roundabout all through to the end of Allen on both sides of the dual carriageway around 7:45 a.m, beginning with Tantalizer.
The exercise was led by LASBCA Secretary, Mr. Tayo Fakolujo and a director in the Lagos State Physical Planning Permit Authority (LASPPPA), Mr. Kayode Daramola.
At Zenith Bank, LASBCA officials drove out the customers and bank officials before sealing the premises, while at Unity Bank, the premises was sealed before it opened for business.
The government said the affected buildings were giving approval for residential and were later converted for commercial purposes for which no approval was granted.
The General Manager of LASBCA, Mr. Lekan Shodeinde said the affected buildings had been issued notices over one month ago to come forward to regularise their documents and get commercial approval, but that only few property owners whose buildings had been converted to commercial purposes showed up.
He said under the physical planning law, a residential property must obtain due permit before it could be converted to commercial, saying that it was inappropriate to convert a residential property to commercial.
Shodeinde said LASBCA had been given the mandate to carry out audit on buildings in Lagos State for safety purposes and ensure that people did not take laws into their hands.
He said the government had also given six months grace period for people who did not have permit before erecting their structures to regularise them without paying the penalties for such violations.
The LASBCA boss lamented that owners of properties served notices on Allen Avenue did not come forward to regularise their papers, hence the need to enforce the law for compliance purpose.
According to him, government would no longer tolerate illegal conversion of residential properties to commercial without permit, as the law would descend heavily on those who trampled under the law.