The Chairman, Gateway Zone Estate, Oyebode Ojomu, has said the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu; the Commissioner for Environment and Water Resources, Tunji Bello; and the Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Dr Idris Salako, are feigning ignorance over the activities of land grabbers building houses in the green belt located in a vast gorge in Magodo Phase 1 in the Ikosi-Isheri Local Council Development Area of the state.
That despite the government’s declaration that building in the gorge was illegal, suspected land grabbers, including traditional rulers bent on developing a housing estate there, had continued to flout the order.
Ojomu told newsmen that the land grabbers removed the sticker of the environment ministry announcing the ban on housing development in the gorge and opened the gate for truckloads of cement, sand and granite to start coming in a bid to start building in the gorge.
He said, “As I speak to you, some block work has been done there during odd hours when no one pays attention; this clearly shows that there is planned development there as the drainage has been blocked. For three years, we have been engaging the government to address the matter and the government has made statements supporting our campaign, but has yet to walk the talk.
“When they called for the new Kosofe Modern Development Plan, the Commissioner for Physical Planning was there and I told him that he had made a statement that development would not take place in the gorge due to environmental factors, but I said he was being undermined and not doing anything about it.
“We need to correct the impression that the CDA is fighting over that land; our interest is the environmental impact of the project as the gorge is a collection point for all the water coming from Magodo phases 1 and 2, Omole phases 1 and 2, Agidingbi industrial area and the Otedola area. So, if residential houses are built there and it is blocked, when flood comes, it will endanger all residents along the coastline.”
Ojomu sought to know who gave approval for the development of a housing estate in the gorge, alleging that the land grabbers were indirectly being backed by some interested parties in government.
He said, “The land grabbers are just interested in the money they are to get there and ignoring the dangers to lives and property. We have written four petitions to the governor directly and his Chief of Staff has replied us twice, asking the Ministry of Physical Planning to take necessary action. We have tried to follow up, but it has been much talk and less action on the part of the government.
“This is a government reserved area, we should not be at the mercy of land grabbers, who are harassing residents and undermining our security, and the government will abandon us. If we have written petitions and the governor’s office has written to the appropriate ministry to take action, and the Ministry of Environment has visited the site and marked the place and yet, the order of government is being flouted and nobody is concerned about it, that is silence and it means that certain officials may have been compromised.
“Otherwise, I do not see why land grabbers should undermine the position of the government that housing development in the gorge is illegal. The government should not only bark, it should bite. It is either you are in charge or you are not in charge. If the government is in charge, the authority of government supersedes the authority of land grabbers. By law, can any development take place in that gorge without the approval of the ministry within the confines of the town planning laws?
“Who gave them the approval for what they are doing there or who gave them the appropriate title for them to sell and transfer ownership to other parties? Everything is within the confines of the government. The government and the police know these land grabbers, so, they should caution them or enforce a total closure of that place and the buck stops on the governor’s table.”
The Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotoso, said, “I have spoken to my colleague in physical planning and he said there is nothing like that and that there was an agreement between the drainage department and those people that drainage would like to do some work there and they opened the place. He said the government stands on its position that we do not want any development along the wetland and we are not going to tolerate it.
“The stand of the state government is that that place is a wetland and the government will not allow anybody to build on it. Anybody trying to build on it will meet government resistance and as of today, the place has been shut. If the Lagos State Government tells you that no building is permitted in a place and you erect a building there, you will take it down. Recently, we pulled down a big building on Banana Island owned by a big man.”
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