The Lagos State Government on Saturday said it carried out a demolition of some properties in Ikoyi during the week because they were “causing environmental nuisance, traffic snarls and more importantly a security threat to the neighbourhood.”
A statement by the Commissioner for Information, Steve Ayorinde, said the state would intensify efforts to destroy buildings erected without compliance with construction regulations.
“This is an exercise in progress; it is an on-going operation to sanitise the environment,” Mr. Ayorinde said. “We have also developed strategies to prevent re-occurrences of illegal developments and for the sustenance of a cleaner Lagos.”
Mr. Ayorinde said those whose properties were demolished were notified ahead of the exercise on Thursday.
“We have documentary evidence of service of all statutory notices, the buildings were also marked with the X red oxide to also call the attention of the owners to physical planning contraventions,” Mr. Ayorinde said.
The state government was responding to criticism that ensued after images of the destruction were circulated on social media Thursday afternoon.
Nuli Juice, a fruit juice and meals cafe at 8, Rumens Road, was affected by the demolition. It received sympathies on social media after its owners condemned authorities for not issuing a prior notice.
“How do you show up at 8.30 a.m. with bulldozers and armed police to terrorise shop owners, and then proceed to level their stores and property to the ground with no prior notice?” Ada Osakwe, Nuli Juice founder, said in a post on Twitter. “Even squatters have rights.”
But Mr. Ayorinde said the owner of the property and the tenants were served months back.
“The demolished building on Rumens Road, Ikoyi was properly served contravention and quit order since March. Both the landlord and tenants,” Mr. Ayorinde said in a separate post on Twitter Saturday.
But Ms. Osakwe told PREMIUM TIMES Saturday afternoon that “the first time tenants were aware of the planned demolition was when it was taking place.”
Ms. Osakwe said there were six businesses occupying the building when the earth moving equipment arrived to tear it down.
“None of the six tenants received any form of notice, warning and/or advice from LASG, contrary to what Mr. Ayorinde stated on Twitter today,” Ms. Osakwe said.
Ms. Osakwe said Nuli Juice and other businesses were not allowed to evacuate before the demolition commenced.
When PREMIUM TIMES put this question to Mr. Ayorinde, he sent one of his surrogates to respond.
Shina Odunuga, who identified himself as a Public Relations Officer in the Ministry of Information, said the tenants weren’t allowed to evacuate because they were served months ago and acknowledgement copies signed.
Mr. Odunuga said he would email the proof to PREMIUM TIMES on Monday, including photo evidence showing the properties were marked for demolition.
Akinwunmi Ambode, the state governor, was faulted on social media for authorising the destruction of small businesses at a time the country was grappling with economic recession.