Lagos Govt Reacts As Ohanaeze Fumes Over Demolition

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Lagos State has defended the ongoing demolition of buildings in unauthorized places in parts of the state, saying the action is in accordance with the rule of law.

The reaction followed the call by Ohanaeze Ndigbo on the state to suspend the demolition of houses following complaints it received.

Its President, Emmanuel Iwuayanwu, who also complained about demolition in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), said he would soon meet with Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu on the matter.

But Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotoso, said since the demolitions started, no one had come up to say his property was demolished unjustly.

He said: “If we say we want a greater Lagos, a Lagos that will be home for all, that will develop at the pace of other megacities of the world, then rule of law should be sustained. The government is only demolishing buildings that are on canals and drainage channels. Let’s not forget that Lagos is below the sea level, and if we continue to abuse planning laws and regulations, we will all be affected when nature fights back.

“The demolition has no colour, no religion, no professional, gender or ethnic bias to it. It’s based purely on the rule of law that people must get permits before they start any building project, whether residential or business. I am also sure no one will get a permit to build on water or drainage channels.

“And since the demolition started, no one has come forward to say his property was demolished without due process. I know a local government chairman whose five houses have been demolished. So if anyone is saying it’s targeted at a section of residents, such person has not seen the full list of persons affected or has not done his homework right. The demolition has no ethnic coloration or bias.”

Iwuanyanwu during a news conference, said: “It has been brought to my notice that many families have been thrown into serious difficulty due to the demolition in Lagos State.

“I have carried out an investigation on what has happened in Lagos, and I appeal to the Government of Lagos State to intervene and ensure that justice is done. If anybody fails to obey the laws of the Land, the Igbo leadership will never support misconduct from any Igboman anywhere they live. I don’t have any doubt that there may be some instances where Igbo and perhaps other people whose property were demolished in Lagos did not fully comply with the laws of Lagos State. If any developer with impunity and without proper approval proceeds to develop a property anywhere in the world, he is taking a risk and his property stands the risk of being demolished.

“On the other hand, if the property is properly purchased, with approvals from appropriate authority given before development, the individual deserves a happy and peaceful enjoyment of his assets. If any Government demolishes the property built with approval of the appropriate government department, such government by law must pay appropriate compensation for the damage incurred to the owner of the building.

“I will make an attempt to see the Governor of Lagos State in the next few days. I will therefore appeal that the Governor of Lagos State kindly suspends the demolition of buildings until all the facts are cleared.

“I have also got reports of violation of building regulations in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja. Because of the investment characteristics of Igbo, private properties and investments in Abuja are substantially owned by Igbos.

“I will advise my people the Igbo to ensure that they comply with all legislations and local regulations to avoid demolition of their properties in Abuja and other parts of Nigeria.

He said Ohanaeze Ndigbo will establish an Ohanaeze Relief Agency to be controlled by top Igbo leaders with a mandate to support other Nigerians when the need arises in the spirit of brotherhood.

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