Lagos State Govt says, “The buildings lacked required approvals, cited around Airport restricted areas, some cited on aviation fuel pipelines“
Residents of Ajao Estate in Lagos, Nigeria, were woken on Friday by the sounds of cranes and bulldozers that demolished tens of building overnight, allegedly belonging to Igbos, leaving desperate residents homeless. Also, in the past few days, on the order of Lagos State Governor Sanwo-Olu, many buildings in Banana Island are not left out, they have been brought down to rubbles.
Speculatively, the ongoing demolitions may not be unconnected with ethnic profiling of the Igbos in Lagos State since 2023 election began. Following the defeat of the President-Elect Ahmed Tinubu in Lagos, his stronghold, by Mr. Peter Obi of the Labour Party, the attendant hardship which Igbo people had been subjected to is traumatic.
Igbos are said to be facing a pandemic of demolitions and evictions which are being carried out inhumanely. The demolitions are often illegal, conducted without a court order, with no consultation and no advance warning. The demolitions have been criticised, with calls for a paradigm shift from ethnic profiling of Igbos in Lagos and maybe other parts of the country, to building an equal and transparent one Nigeria.
Lagos State Government has confirmed demolition of at least 13 buildings at I.K. Peter Street, Ajao Estate, over illegal occupation, construction along pipeline and cited in close proximity to the Murtala International Airport, Lagos.
Multi-billion naira private and commercial buildings in Ajao Estate are predominantly owned and occupied by the Igbos. But the General Manager, Lagos State Building Control Agency, LASBCA, Gbolahan Oki, explained several reasons for the demolition on Friday, while briefing newsmen.
According to him, the buildings lacked required approvals and were cited around Airport restricted areas while some are cited on aviation fuel pipelines.
The Agency boss who described the situation as disaster waiting to happen, expressed fear of possibile fire outbreak from the pipeline in future which he said could result in loss of lives and properties.
He said the buildings were illegally constructed out of clear disregard to the requirements of extant laws.
Mentioning that the buildings had no planning permit and were built around the pipelines, Oki said that “nobody in his right thinking mind will go and buy a plot on a pipeline and build on the pipeline.”
He stated that due consultations and communications have been made with enough time of over eight years, 2016, given to the occupants of the affected buildings to evacuate the structures.
lamented over the spate of building collapse in Lagos, blaming it on basically, “attitudinal problem.”
He described the buildings on the land as “National risk” to the airport being “extremely close”, stressing that “no life of a Nigerian is worth being lost to the dangers that the citing of the buildings pose.”
However, investigation shows the host community had dragged Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), to court over attempted forceful acquisition of their community land without adequate compensation —a matter still pending the court before the demolition.
Also speaking on the development, the authority of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), said “the agency is happy Lagos State Government is stepping into the issue after several warnings in attempt to stop the constructions of buildings were not yielded to by those it called “encroachers, who stole from the land of the Airport.”
The General Manager, Business Development, FAAN, Mr. Ngwu Hycienth, commended the partnership with LASBCA to bring sanity, normalcy and decency to the Airport environment.
He lamented that the authorities of the airport began to serve notice encroachment on its land in 2016 on occupiers for defying the standard rule that no building must be cited close to the perimeter fence of the Airport.
The Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, had few week ago reiterated the government’s determination to demolish some buildings obstructing the expansion of the newly constructed Murtala Muhammed International Airport Two (MMIA2), Lagos at the airport.
Also on the order of Governor Sanwo-Olu, on Wednesday, officials of the Lagos State Building Control Agency and the Lagos State Environmental and Special Offences Unit (Task Force) begun demolition of buildings on Banana Island that are in contravention of the Lagos State Urban and Regional Planning Development Law (2019).
During his visit to the Island the, Sanwo-Olu had condemned the illegal activities of developers hiding under agencies of the Federal Government to build illegal structures at Banana Island in Ikoyi area of the State.
“This administration would no longer tolerate the activities of greedy developers who reclaim land from water illegally in connivance with some government agencies,” he said.
Investigation show that from Ajeo to Banana Island, the story was the same: tens of residents, predominantly Igbos, were rendered homeless and forced, most times with children, to spend nights in the dark, cold, insecure nights. Markets were not spared either.