The South West Professional Forum, SOWPROF has dismissed claims in some quarters that the ongoing demolition of illegal structures by the Lagos State Government is targeting a particular ethnic group.
SOWPROF, President , Chief Segun Ajibulu ,in a statement made available to journalists by Lateef Kayode, the group’s Assistant General Secretary refuted the claims adding that majority of illegal structures demolished in Lagos are owned by Yoruba people.
Rather reading ethnic colouration to the genuine intentions of the government to sanitize the state the group urged investors to ascertain the genuineness and legal status of any land or property before putting their money.
“we need to set the records straight. We have done diligent checks. We have a compilation of all the victims of the demolition of illegal structures in Lagos. We have done extensive compilation of the victims and the issues involved. Some 80 percent of the victims of the demolished of illegal buildings in Lagos are from the South West area”
The professional group said attempts by a few people to ethnicise the environmental issue is self-serving.
The group said it is a pity that ethnic politics is being introduced to the attempts by the Lagos State Government to deal with serious environmental hazards that have led to flooding, deaths and that even threaten the collective future of the people of the State.
It urged the Lagos State Governor Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu not to be deterred by parochial critiques introducing ethnic politics into a purely environmental issue.
SOWPROF said it started the compilation of names of the landlords five months ago and that the names of owners of the demolished buildings are available for the public.
The group said demolition of illegal buildings is a nationwide issue.
“It takes place in all the South East, North West, North East and South South. It has happened in Port Harcourt, Kano,Enugu, Onitsha, Owerri, Aba, Kaduna, Ilorin, Makurdi and in many cities across the country. It is unfortunate that some people are exploring the fragile political situation in the country to cause disaffection using the demolition of illegal buildings in Lagos State as a pun in the game.”
SOWPROF said property owners should ensure they do not invest in land and property that infringe on existing environmental laws.
“We urge critiques to recall that in September 2022, the then Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi of Ebonyi State directed the demolition of 65 houses at Ogwuma, Afikpo South Local Government Area of the State, following a landslide recorded in the area in July” SOWPROF stated.
According to SOWPROF ,” in Enugu State this year, the Obeagu and Ndiagu Amechi-Uwani Awkunanaw communities in Enugu South Local Government Area of Enugu State called on the Enugu Capital Territory Development Authority, ECTDA, to shelve its planned demolition of over 200 houses in Enugu Lifestyle and Golf City, otherwise known as Centenary City. But the Government of Enugu State still carried out the demolition
The group said In Abia State, the Task Force demolished many structures in Aba North, Aba South, Osisioma, Obingwa and Ugwunagbor areas few months ago. Uche Ukeje, Special Adviser to Alex Otti, the Governor of Abia, said the demolition was necessary to ensure the master plan of the state.
“In Anambra State, the Awka Capital Territory Development Authority (ACTDA) resumed the demolition exercise recently this year with over 100 shops, hotels, and residential apartments, located along Oby Okoli Avenue demolished to prevent flooding”adding that demolition of illegal buildings is a regular feature in Kano State and in Abuja,the Federal Capital Territory, FCT.
SOWPROF also asked the various state Governments to reform the Land Ministry to ensure that investors do not put down their money, buy land, build the houses while Government officials watch after collection of bribe only to discover the building has no approval.
“The State Governments should realise the Lands Ministry is riddled with corrupt officials. It is lack of wisdom to allow people to buy land, develop the land for months or even years while the Government watch the building only to come back years after to demolish the buildings after millions or even billions have been spent” the group said.
SOWPROF was established in 2012 as a coalition of South West based professional groups