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Dwellers fault Lekki shanties demolition, govt pledges compensation

Some retirees and residents of the Lekki/Ajah area of Lagos State affected by the recent demolition of shanties and makeshift structures in the area have called on the state government to compensate them as they count their losses.

The residents, who spoke with PUNCH Metro on Wednesday, said the action of the state government had left them homeless and exposed them to insecurity in the area.

The PUNCH reported that the Lagos State Government demolished illegal structures and shanties built around the Jakande Estate and Maiyegun in the Lekki/Ajah area of the state.

A retired member of the Nigerian Army, who did not disclose his identity, claimed that this was the second time his home had been destroyed by the government.

He said, “I have been here since 1990 when Maiyegun was demolished. We are the victims of Maiyegun, and I even have a church here named Spiritual Life Church. I have been running the church for 22 years, and what is happening here is a surprise to me.

“In Nigeria, everything is going wrong; there is no humanity here, and there is no peace in the country. The people in authority feel like human beings are nothing. They are supposed to find shelter for the people they want to render homeless. Will everybody live in Chevron, Victoria Island, or Ikoyi?”

“They have no right to do this. It was a forest, so we had to open this place to manage. They did not give us any notice. I heard they gave some people N100,000, and they are not supposed to do this. I served the government for 35 years. I was always at the war front, and they came here to disgrace me,” he added.

Another retiree, who also pleaded anonymity, said the victims of the demolition should receive compensation from the government so they can afford to rent a home in the state, adding that they were not provided proper notice of departure before the demolition.

“The annoying thing in this situation is that we were not informed. The government needs to compensate us because it is not easy to build another house judging by the cost of building materials in the state. They should at least give the victims money that will help them rent good houses outside,” he said.

A resident, simply identified as Adetoun, claimed that she recently paid N300,000 for her house rent and that the landlady refused to refund her money after the demolition.

“I have been here for six months, and I paid N300,000 for a self-contained apartment. Currently, the landlady said she could not return the money because she was also a victim of the demolition,” she said.

When contacted, the Director of Public Affairs, Ministry of Environment, Kunle Adeshina, said the state demolished the shanties to allow for appropriate regeneration, and it was discovered that the majority of squatters were not included in the Lagos State Resident Registration Agency database.

Adeshina stated, “Most of the squatters were found not to be captured in the Lagos State Resident Registration Agency database, and it is worrisome for any government to not be able to account for the residents and be able to provide social amenities for them.

“The indiscriminate springing up of shanties and illegal structures serves as a hideout for criminals as well as destitute who roam about the streets in the daytime and perpetrate crimes at dusk.

Also, speaking with PUNCH Metro, the Lagos State Commissioner for Information, Gbenga Omotoso, noted that those whose houses were unfairly demolished would receive compensation.

Omotoso said, “Lagos does not just demolish houses, because everything is based on the law. If they have the correct papers, their houses will not be demolished. I do not know of anyone’s house that has been demolished illegally, and if that is done, I can tell you that they will be compensated for it. Most of the houses are shanties, and the law is fair.”

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