… As Commissioner, Officials Visit Scene of Ongoing Demolitions at Lekki II

The Lagos State Commissioner for the Environment and Water Resources, Tokunbo Wahab, on Friday, declared that the Government would not be selective in its application of the law to residents, but ensure justice and fairness to all.

He stated this after his visit, alongside other State officials, to Lekki II Ikota Drainage Channel corridors where structures built on the drainage channel are being demolished for an on-the-spot assessment.

Wahab, who was besieged by pleading occupants and owners of the fully built structures constructed on the drainage setbacks and already marked for demolition, said stopping the demolition exercise at this point would amount to a double standard.

The Commissioner added the demolished block of duplexes was on the same drainage setback alignment as the ones yet to be removed and that the State is irrevocably committed to reclaiming its drainage setback and restoring the masterplan.

He explained that it is sad that the State Government had to take the very difficult decision to pull down the fully built-up structures to reclaim the drainage setback for the free flow of stormwater in the area.

He stressed that the owners of the structures demolished in Ikota were aware that they had contravened and have had different engagements with the Ministry from 2020 when most of the structures were at foundation levels and several notices were served. “At Ikota, the level of encroachments is just unimaginable, people have built on the canal path and we resolved that these nuisances cannot be allowed to continue. It just had to stop”. he said.

Wahab said he made it a point of duty to visit the Ikota site once again and personally meet the owners of the structures yet to go down and advise them to vacate the building before the demolition exercise moves to their end because no amount of entreaties will stop the exercise.

“We have gone round and we concluded that all houses on the canal path and on those on the canal itself must be removed and the path recreated to discharge into Ikota River”, he said. The Commissioner also visited Victoria Garden City (VGC) in Lekki where some homeowners extended their approved plots beyond the five-metre buffer Zone of VGC.

He said that the extension will be pulled down to allow water to flow freely into the Lagoon, saying “We cannot be brazen in our illegality and be brazen in our nonchalant attitude to the environment, it has to end, illegality cannot beget legality”.

He said the Government had hitherto toed the line of Advocacy but the people have refused to change hence reasons why enforcement action has to be taken to make corrections where necessary. Wahab averred that homeowners should ensure that they seek and obtain drainage approval alongside other approvals before embarking on their building projects to avert such a situation. 

“This enforcement will be a continuous exercise, people cannot blame the government for what they caused by their actions, whatever negative thing you do to the environment will come to haunt you eventually”, he said. Speaking on the closure and reopening of some major markets in the state, Tokunbo Wahab said that the markets were closed for running foul of the provision of the State Sanitation laws.

He added that the markets, upon closure, were handed a checklist to be fulfilled and once these checklists are met, the markets will be reopened. “You need to see the unsightly state and scene in the markets before closure and we cannot allow our people to trade food commodities and other items in a dirty and filthy environment”, he said. 

The Commissioner said the Government is also undertaking a safety audit in the markets through the Safety Commission to ensure the safety of the lives of Traders and Patrons in market spaces.

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