Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State has been faulted over the demolition of over 400 houses in Oke-Egan Kayetoro Community in Ibeju-Lekki area of the state.
Barrister Hannibal Uwaifo, who visited the community and the victims of the demolition on Sunday, 28 February, 2021 said that the state government should have been proactive instead of demolishing the structures, which he said has made over 5,000 people homeless.
Uwaifo stressed that “Lagos State that is planning to be a megacity, and a government that was begging for votes, running helter skelter, talking like humble people, is now doing this operation against the people that voted for them.
“I think that this is not what democracy is all about. I think the Lagos State Government has violated all the norms of democracy, all the norms of good governance.
“I understand that the story has been changing from place to place, “oh, they are illegal structures, oh, they are shanties, government owns the land.” But this is sheer wickedness, it is gestapo tactics, this is not acceptable in a democratic government.
“Whatever may be the crime of the people, knowing that you are dealing with over 5,000 lives, over 400 houses in an undeveloped area, where people are developing the roads and the infrastructure, there ought to be a lot of considerations before embarking on massive destruction.”
Barrister Uwaifo added that some people, whose house were demolished, had not even finished paying for the materials they used for their buildings, and that some were still owing over the structures, wondering where they would go after the demolition.
“Are we not killing the people, who we were voted to govern, people who voted for the government and voted for those in power.
“Instead of supporting them, we are destroying their houses, the Lagos State Government has a lot of opportunities and means of resolving this issue.
“The state government must be proactive if they know they have already acquired the land. Most of the times, the lands were taken from those, who had the ancestral homes whereas the Land Use Act, which gives power to the Governors over land has been very controversial from the beginning,” he said.
The legal practitioner explained that the intendment of the Land Use Act was not to give the land to the Governors in their personal capacity, but that it was to give the land to the Governors for the entire people.
“Why do we now use draconian means to acquire land from people, and use draconian means to settle scores with your people who you were elected to govern,” he stated.
Residents of Oke-Egan Community, Kayetoro in Eleko area of Ajah, Lagos had on Friday February, 12 staged a peaceful demonstration to the State Government demanding compensation for the demolition of their houses.
The protesters claimed that their houses, which were about 400 in number were demolished in the early hours of Monday 8th February, 2021.
The disturbed residents, who chanted various protest songs, carried placards with different inscriptions.
The leader of the protesters, Mr. Etim Odiase said that they were never served any notice, and that they only heard of the issue by words mouth.
Odiase added in an interview that the residents informed their lawyer, who he said went to the office of the Surveyor General of the state on Friday last week, and that he was told that there was nothing.
“But, as at 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 that the land had been acquired by the state government. Some of us from the community were 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.
This was corroborated by another affected resident of the area, Mr. Damilare Temitope James, who said that he did his findings from the office of the Surveyor General of the state and that he was told that the land was ratifiable.
James stressed that he was told that the land had not been committed to any public use.
He alleged that they gave money to some of the officials that were sent to them and that they were told hat there was no problem.
“They rendered us homeless and destroyed our property worth billions of naira. We want them to come and help us.
“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 said.
He said further that a letter was given to Hon. Fatal Mojeed, representing Ibeju-Lekki Constituency 1 in the assembly and that he promised them that there would be no problem.
“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 said.