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THE Lagos State Ministry of Environment has said the demolition of houses during the total lockdown of Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) is a preparatory measure aimed at securing lives and properties of residents of the state.
The ministry’s director of public affairs, Kunle Adeshina, told The ICIR in a phone interview that the action was necessary considering what is at stake.
Adeshina said notice has been served to the houses since November 2019 but the residents failed to comply.
” We sent them a notice of demolition since November last year but they did not conply, we even sent a reminder last month,” said Adekunle.
He added that although contracts had been awarded to drainage companies for clearing of the areas before the spread of COVID-19 in the nation.
“The government had awarded the contracts to the companies way before the index case in Lagos state and there is a timeline for the execution,” he noted.
He said the government gave a timeline following a forecast that there maybe heavy rainfall this year.
“We made the forecast public, Lagos is surrounded by water and we needed to be ahead of the rain to curb flooding, if there is flooding, the government would still be held responsible but they are not allowing us do our job,” he told The ICIR reporter.
Contrary to Adeshina’s claim that a notice had been served since November 2019, Sunday Unah, a resident of Oke – Ara in Ogba whose house was domilshed, said he received a 48 hours notice from from the ministry.
Thereafter, the government officials came with armed security forces including Mobile Police and officers of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC) to effect demolition.
Unah said the armed law enforcement agencies had threatened them not to resist demilotion.
An eyewitness at the scene of demolition said a sick woman in her sixties, Regina James who was receiving a drip in her house, was carried outside when the demolition team stormed the area.
Betty Abah of The Centre for Children’s Health Education, Orientation and Protection, CEE-HOPE who was present at the scene of demolition told The ICIR that more than 30 houses were demolished in Ogba.
She said the action of the Lagos State government has left many families left homeless and hopeless.
She said houses that were not completely demolished have been left with trembling foundation, putting residents at greater danger.
“Now that their houses have been demolished, where does Lagos State government want them to go during this lockdown,” she asked rhetorically.