By Olasunkanmi Akoni & Bose Adelaja
LAGOS—Over 350 illegal structures, built on the Right of Way, RoW, of high tension power cables at Oba Wahab Ayinde Balogun Modern Market, Isheri-Olofin, in Egbe-Idimu Local Council Development Area, LCDA, of Alimosho Local Government, were yesterday demolished by Lagos State Government.
Chairman of Lagos State Task Force, Police Superintendent Olayinka Egbeyemi, led the enforcement team on the demolitions of the illegal structures, which included lock up shops, K-Clamps, kiosks, among others, built in contravention of the state’s building law.
Egbeyemi, who confirmed that residents and traders were allowed to remove their goods and properties, said the exercise was carried out after due notices were served on occupants as the measure was aimed at protecting lives and properties.
The exercise was jointly carried out by Lagos State Task Force, Lagos State Building Control Agency and Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development.
Old, new owners react
When Vanguard visited the scene yesterday, there was mixed feeling in the area as some people applauded the state government, while the new owners condemned it.
Some of the initial owners, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said they have been receiving threat messages from the land grabbers, who accused them of bringing the state government into the matter.
Four of them said they now live in fear and can no longer move freely.
One of the new owners, simply identified as Chukwudi, said he had completed payment for three of the shops.
He lamented: “This is a great loss my sister. I have sunk about N13 million to acquire these shops.”
An initial owner, Rasheed Bolutife, said the forceful eviction was already taking its toll on his family, adding “a lot of my goods were stolen during the forceful eviction. I have three undergraduates who can no longer continue their education.
“I have to borrow N100 to transport myself here today. May God bless the state government for its intervention in the matter.”
Egbe-Idimu LCDA indicted
Though the Assistant General Secretary of Oba Balogun Market, Alfa Yisa Mudashiru, confirmed being served due notice to vacate the area, he stated that they developed the market in conjunction with officials of Egbe-Idimu Local Council Development Area.
Saying they had been selling and living inside the market for over 35 years, Alfa Mudashiru noted: “We were served adequate notices and both the Baba Oloja, Mr. Salami Alao, and Iya Oloja, Alhaja Airat Adebayo, had earlier lobbied government officials to see if they could get a stay of execution before today (yesterday).”
Leader of the Hausa community at the market, Alhaji Aliyu Galadima, said the market was divided along three ethnic groups: Yoruba, Hausa and Igbo.
He stated that immediately notices were served, he and his other ethnic groups’ leaders quickly informed residents and traders of the market about government’s intention.
Land speculators’ arrival
Vanguard gathered that the land was initially under the control of the state government for over three decades and the occupants include artisans of different vocations, who were paying levies to the appropriate quarters until last April when some land speculators hijacked it and evicted the initial occupants.
It was gathered that a particular land speculator and his accomplice (names withheld), claimed ownership of the land before contracting it to a developer, based on their relationship with a traditional ruler (names withheld).
The developer was said to have constructed about 350 shops, which were given out at between N1.5 million and N3 million.
Similarly, the shops were said to have been constructed in connivance with some officials of Egbe-Idimu Local Council Development Area.
Vanguard gathered that in the process of the forceful eviction of the old shop owners by the land grabbers, some of the occupants lost their lives, many were injured while property worth millions of naira were either stolen or destroyed.
The matter was said to have been incidented with police at Zone 2, while the state government promised to wade into the matter, which reportedly resulted in yesterday’s demolition.