LASG erred in demolishing Catholic Church’s fence in Ajao Estate
SIR: I read a story on Lagos State Government’s explanation of the demolition of a Catholic Church’s fence in Ajao Estate in The Guardian of Thursday, February, 2015.
Ordinarily, Catholics resist throwing tantrums with anybody, more so government at this period of our Lenten season. But it is expedient to explain a few things so that the issue at stake would be more deeply understood. First, in exercise of power, legal justice goes hand-in-hand with social or equitable justice and that there is a manner of exercise of rights that mirrors cruelty in man. When government begins to bend the law in favour of a single individual, no matter how highly placed, to the detriment of over 3,000 persons, the rationality of any ensuing action becomes suspicious.
Lagos State Government has in the past few years undermined the peace of Ajao Estate. Cutting through an estate with major roads destroying the privacy and security of the estate without any regards for its residents is insensitive. The estate has only two access routes through which government now funnelled traffic to and from Isolo and Ejigbo, making access to homes in the estate a nightmare and dangerous in emergency situations. Some of the roads were designated “one way” overnight by government fiat thereby making intra estate drive around an odium and creating a harvest farm for LASTMA officials.
An indigene built a house on the roadway by the canal. This house was built after over 25 years of existence of the church premises whose exit gate was facing the end of Johnson Umejei Close. Unless laws changed, such a house would have neither Certificate of Occupancy nor Plan approval to justify its existence. The government then bent the law, rechanneling the road dangerously to avoid the house and felt more comfortable destroying the serenity of the Catholic Church where over 3,000 faithful worship. Perhaps the government is unaware that by its action, it desecrated the very character of a Catholic Church – an internal private space both for disciplined car parking and for outdoor spiritual activities. The proposed new road plan undermines the safety of pedestrian worshippers as well as the traffic logistics for cars moving in and out for daily and Sunday services.
What made it more unbearable was that the government chose to do its demolition on Ash Wednesday, the start of a 40-day fasting and devotion period in the Catholic faith. For a state government official to cast aspersion on Rev Fr Paul Anyansi as not being well informed is to insult the Catholic hierarchy. The only good governance option for Lagos State Government is to properly redirect the passage way from Baale Shekoni Street, through Chi-Vita Avenue to Ati Okoye Street and link up with Kolawole Shonibare Street. After all, this new route is wider, obviously less life-threatening and currently in use as the access route by government fiat.
• Uchechukwu Emmanuel is a Catholic in Ajao Estate.
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