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Lagos: Oke-Afa residents lament shops demolition

Residents of Oke-Afa Estate Area of Isolo, Lagos have lamented the demolition of their shops by the Lagos State government.

Their lamentation came after the government reportedly refused to listen to their plea not to go ahead with the demolition exercise with a protest march made to the Lagos State House of Assembly hours earlier.

Condemning the demolition exercise, a resident of the area, Chinelo Ubago, revealed that the government had “many other issues to contend with in the community,” and wondered why setting up of shops close to people’s apartments by the owners of such apartments would be the number one problem to the government.

Chinelo posited that on a scale of 1-100, the existence of those shops would rank last among the challenges and problems faced by residents of the community.

“I don’t own a shop in the estate neither do I have a relative who does, but I am speaking as a human being who has human feelings concerning the plights of others. I am still at a loss on how the government would leave countless other problems facing the community and focus on the most insignificant of them all. As we speak, the roads in the community are in a total state of disrepair; we hardly have electricity for more than 30 minutes every day, among other problems. I wonder why government is not looking for a way of fixing the dilapidated roads, but would rather opt to demolish shops where pensioners were struggling to make ends meet, under the pretense that the shops were illegally sited. I consider this as nothing more than callousness on the part of the government,” she added.

Similarly, one of those affected by the demolition exercise, Mrs Adediwura Adeaga, in a telephone conversation with the Nigerian Tribune, lamented the fact that as a result of the demolition, she had lost a major source of income, especially bearing in mind the fact that she had retired from civil service.

“I invested a large chunk of my pension in setting up the shop that was among those demolished. I don’t know what to do for now. Despite our pleading the state government still went ahead with demolition exercise. It is a shame that all entreaties eventually fell on deaf ears. This government promised to be a government for all classes of people, but with this latest action, I can say that promise was a ruse. This is because we heard it on the grapevine that the demolition was carried out because the spaces now made available by the demolition have been earmarked for some powerful people to make use of in the future,” she noted.

It will be recalled that some residents of the Oke-Afa Estate had earlier in the week staged a protest march to the Lagos State House of Assembly to protest against the then planned demolition of their shops by officers of the Lagos State Building Investment Company, who they said had given them a notice of less than seven days, asking them to vacate the shops in question.

But the protesters had maintained that the development would lead to loss of livelihood for the shop owners who they said were predominantly pensioners.

The leader of the protesters, Chief Olawale Osanyinpeju, had notably stated that the estate was constructed by former governor, Alhaji Lateef Jakande in the 80s, adding that the residents built shops on spaces around their houses.

“We cannot allow grasses to grow in the spaces, so we decided to build shops on the spaces. Since then, we have been making use of the place. We cannot leave them and go to the market,” Osanyinpeju had stated.

“LBIC initially came to demolish the stalls, but we invited them and we discussed. I am the Chairman of Kiosks and Containers Committee. They inspected what we have done and they were pleased with it.

“They came during the tenure of former Governor Babatunde Fashola and said we would be paying ground rent of N1,000 for containers and N500 for small shops and we complied,” he had added.