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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Yemi Alade calls out Lagos Government for demolishing houses

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Singer Yemi Alade has weighed in on the ongoing demolition of residential properties in Lagos State.

PREMIUM TIMES earlier reported that the federal government began the demolition of properties affected by the right of way on the proposed Lagos-Calabar coastal road construction.

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Last week, demolition videos surfaced online, sparking outrage from residents who accused the state government of giving two hours’ notice to evacuate the properties, particularly in Mende estate in Lagos.

However, Tokunbo Wahab, the Commissioner for Environment and Water Resources in the state, in an interview on Channels Television Sunday, said the buildings demolished in Mende Estate were necessary to prevent flooding of the entire mainland.

Mr Wahab explained that the demolished structures were built on the right of way to the Odo Iya Alaro River’s System 1 drainage. He noted that the government had issued demolition notices to the residents in 2021 and 2023.

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Yemi Alade

Yemi Alade, unhappy with the demolition, expressed her dismay and concern over the displacement of families and the loss of homes in a series of X tweets.

The Afropop star called upon Lagos authorities to reassess their actions and prioritize the welfare of citizens.

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The 35-year-old singer said: “What is happening? Does it make sense for people to invest millions of dollars in real estate, buy houses, purchase land, and then have the Lagos State government demolish walls, break houses, and leave people homeless overnight? This is being done seriously and continuously. Currently, the Maryland Mende area is experiencing this turmoil.

People go to sleep in their homes and wake up the next day homeless. This not only devalues real estate in Nigeria and Lagos but also destroys people’s trust, not just in the concept of Nigeria, but entirely in the modest savings they’ve accumulated to improve their lives and create generational wealth.”

She suggested that alternatives should be considered rather than demolishing multi-million dollar houses.

Megacity dreams

The alumna of the University of Lagos (UNILAG) questioned whether the government’s mega city dreams would be fulfilled after transforming the state into a network of roads devoid of residents.

She noted, “Thank you for giving me and millions of others a reason not to invest in Lagos real estate. Please begin refunding legitimate buyers, at the very least.”

The singer sought an answer for the initial approval of the demolished building in Mende Villa 1.

She said: “You have commissioned several building plans in conjunction with Legrande and gained the trust of many. Why dash it all with this one blow? Two hours’ notice. The Lagos State Government gave the residents of Mende Villa two hours to pack out without prior notice.

“Go through your records and start alerting people who bought land legally! Prompt them years ahead of your intended demolition or tell buyers before collecting their money.”

Seed of inferiority

The ‘Johnny’ crooner stated that the government had instilled a sense of inferiority in the Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu-led administration and devalued the land in the state despite citizens undergoing legal due process.

She argued that the demolition provided the world with a reason not to invest in Lagos real estate.

She said, “Send notices directly to the residents. Announce it in the news. Showing up suddenly and giving only two hours notice is traumatic for innocent citizens. They are not the developers, and yes, the developers have also failed the residents.

“Just imagine witnessing a tragedy, or even worse, being a victim, and then people who weren’t there deny your claims. Karma comes back around, don’t worry. It’s turn by turn.”

Background

On 9 April, this newspaper reported that residents of the Okun-Ajah community protested at the State House of Assembly against the plan to demolish their properties for the proposed Lagos-Calabar Coastal Road project.

Numbering about 100, the protesting residents stated that their properties had been marked for demolition and urged the government to halt the plan.

Saheed Olukosi, the leader of the protesters, urged the government to adhere to due process by reverting to the original gazetted Right of Way (RoW).

However, this wasn’t the first time the state government would demolish properties. In June 2023, 17 ‘distressed’ buildings in the Alaba International market in Ojo LGA were marked for demolition.

Gbolahan Oki, the general manager of the Lagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA), said the affected buildings had been marked for demolition multiple times since 2016, but the occupants disregarded the notices.

Mr Oki clarified that the properties were demolished to protect lives, not to witch-hunt or acquire the land.

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