The Ondo State Government has demolished 40 houses it said the owners built on public land in Akure, the state capital.
The state government said the houses were among 98 buildings designated as illegal structures.
The state Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Lola Fagbemi, stated this on Monday in Akure.
The demolished structures were mainly residential buildings behind the popular Automat, along the Akure/Owo expressway.
The land was said to have been illegally sold by land grabbers to the owners of the buildings.
Mrs Fagbemi said the land was acquired by the defunct Western Region and designated as an industrial area.
The state government had refused to entertain pleas for compensation for the demolished buildings.
“Sometimes ago, the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Infrastructure informed us of the area upon the creation of Ondo State on February 3, 1976, and this is one of the greatest immovable assets that we have as a state,” Mrs Fagbemi said.
“Records at our disposal also showed that compensations were paid to the initial owners when the land was first acquired.
“We are using this medium to call on the people affected that this area is an industrial area and no residential building will be allowed there. It should as well be noted that government cannot in any way be intimidated.”
She said appropriate legal processes had been followed as the matter had been ongoing since 2016, adding that proper notices were served on the victims.
“This has been done even when some of these houses were still at the foundation level, but they all turned deaf ears,” she said.
“Let it also be on record that none of the houses built on this land has the required land documents to prove their ownership, no C of O and neither do they have land use permit. These are lands taken over by land grabbers.”
Also speaking on the development, the Commissioner for Housing and Infrastructure, Raimi Aminu, said the need for the demolition became urgent, especially as the state awaits the commencement of the long-anticipated Ondo Port.
“Before now, all the lands from Oyemekun, Irese down to ORSC, Automat, Shagari junction had been acquired for industrial purpose and as of then, the highway was not there,” he said.
“Now that Ondo state is getting ready for Port Ondo which we believe will come to the limelight in the shortest possible time, that expansion must come to the headquarters.
“We have a large expanse of land for industrial purposes, but these lands have been encroached on, and this is why we have gone there to carry out the first phase of the demolition exercise.
“The government of Ondo is not one without pity; the pleas and cry for leniency made us soft pedal a little for the remaining occupants to pack their loads and pick a few things from the house because we are still coming back to demolish all the houses affected.”
One of the affected landlords, who does not want his name in print, condemned the exercise, saying they were not given enough time.
“They served us notice just about three days, and today they are here to demolish our buildings,” he said.
“I do not know where I will start from. This is what I have spent my entire life earning on; this is quite unfair and unfortunate.”
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