Stop crying wolf, Lagos govt replies APC National Legal Adviser Banire

National Legal Adviser of the All Progressive Congress, APC, Muiz Banire. [Photo credit: THEWILL]
Muiz Banire. [Photo credit: THEWILL]

The Lagos State Government has denied claims by Muiz Banire, the National Legal Adviser of the All Progressives Congress, APC, that its contravention notice served on a property located at 24A, Remi Fani-Kayode Street, Ikeja GRA is a deliberate target on his (Banire) property in the area.
The state government said the notice equally affects other houses in the axis and that the 48-hour demolition notice the APC official said was allegedly issued only existed in his imagination. 
Mr. Banire, on Wednesday had accused the Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, of persecution.

Although both men are from the same Lagos State and are members of Nigeria’s ruling party, they belong to different factions of the party which has virtually been at war with itself in various states since it won the 2015 general elections in Nigeria.

Mr. Banire opposed Mr. Ambode’s choice as APC candidate in the build up to the 2015 governorship election in Lagos. The Lagos governor, a close ally of party leader, Bola Tinubu, has also been trying to remove Mr. Banire as the national legal adviser of the party and is believed to have engineered his suspension from the Mushin, Lagos local chapter of the APC.

In a statement on Wednesday, Mr. Banire accused the governor and the Lagos government of ”plotting to demolish a house he acquired from the federal government.”

”The Lagos government “is hell-bent on persecuting my family for no reason besides that I insisted on the need to observe the rule of law,” he said.

He made reference to a house in Ikeja, Lagos where he said his mother lives and which he said he and his siblings acquired, through a lease, from the federal government.

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“My siblings and I acquired a lease of the property known as 24A, Remi Fani-Kayode Street, GRA, Ikeja, Lagos from the Federal Government to serve as residence for my aged mother,” the politician said.

He said a notice by a Lagos government ministry demanded “within 24 hours, proof of planning permit obtained before the building was constructed.

“The contravention notice further threatened demolition of my mother’s two-bedroom bungalow within 48 hours of the notice.”

The state government, however, in statement signed its Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Anifowose Abiola, on Wednesday denied the allegations.
“Without equivocation, that not only is Mr. Banire trying to be clever by half, but is being childish in whipping up sentiments that his dear aged mother is the target of the said demand for development permit and that the said property might be demolished in 48 hours”, the statement said. 

The commissioner said contravention notices ”that went out on Wednesday November 15, 2017 were a routine exercise served on properties identified by the state agents as operating without due permits.” 
He said 27 properties were served on that same day, 13 out of which are located on the same Remi Fani-Kayode Street in GRA, Ikeja, where Mr. Banire admitted his property was located.

“There is no way Lagos State would have had a pre-knowledge of the owners of the properties in question let alone target the one that Banire has identified to be his own”, Mr. Anifowose said. 
He added that aside the 13 houses affected on Fani-Kayode Street, there were a few others in Ikeja GRA and the rest in Ikoyi and Yaba. 
“The 27 properties served across the state are just the first set of an ongoing exercise embarked upon by the Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development to validate the records and permits of properties that have undergone ownership transfer processes. 
“This is a routine and lawful exercise that ought not to be confusing to a supposedly learned gentleman who has had the privilege of serving in the Lagos State Cabinet for a dozen years.”

The statement said by Mr. Banire’s admission, he (Banire) had agreed that a transfer of ownership on the property he acquired is taking place and ”what the Lagos State law demands is a validation of this claim so that the requisite permit on the existing property; an alteration to it or a new construction, as the case may be, may be sought and obtained.”

“To suggest that because the transfer of ownership from the federal government to Mr. Banire is yet to be finalised makes him a mere tenant on the property he has acquired is not only disingenuous but is an attempt that is subtly fraudulent. While it is true that every government property sold to individuals or corporate entities is released to the owner on a 99-year lease, no new owner who has bought a property from government deceives the public that he is a mere tenant to the government on an acquired property. Or is Mr. Banire a tenant to the government on the other properties in Ikeja GRA he owns in the state?”

Mr. Anifowose also described as deliberate mischief, Mr. Banire’s claim that the said property would be demolished within 24 hours if the permit was not produced.

The commissioner also said according to the Lagos State Urban and Regional Planning and Development Law 2010, what a contravention notice demands is evidence of planning permit on the existing structure in order to avoid demolition of what would be deemed a contravention if such a permit is not produced within the stipulated time as required by law.

“The law indeed demands that the property owner in question produces all documents in support of his/her case within 24 hours of the service of the Notice after which any contravention is expected to be removed by the owner within 48 hours”, the official added.

Mr. Anifowose clarified that if the owner still refuses to honour such notices; a quit notice will then be issued to the owners of such property identified to have contravened Lagos State building plans or failed to provide the necessary documents to back claims.
He added that even after the expiration of the seven-day quit notice, the property cannot be demolished until the governor grants approval. 
“So, it is patently false that any house has been marked for demolition within 48 hours. This is the law that has been in existence since 2010 when Mr. Banire was still a cabinet member in the Lagos State government”, the commissioner said.

The statement added that while it was within Mr. Banire’s right to ”identify with any set of cohorts that may be struggling with waning influence and political relevance”, it is a pathetic case of scaremongering to, ”equate his untidy record keeping with political witch-hunting.”
”It is not a sign of maturity to be crying wolf where there is none. Lagos is working excellently well for others to copy because it has stayed faithful to governance guided by the rule of law. Mr. Banire should comply with the rules and not create cheap distractions that are unhelpful.”

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