CSO flays demolition of 150 houses in Lagos
A Civil Society Organisation (CSO), SPACES for Change (S4C), has condemned the demolition of over 150 homes and property in Oke-Ira community, Lagos State.
In a statement, yesterday, made available to The Guardian, Executive Director of S4C, Victoria Ibezim-Ohaeri, urged the state government to activate effective engagement protocols to protect and assuage those displaced by availing them unfettered access to grievance resolution and humanitarian assistance or compensation.
The community was on May 31, 2022, thrown into panic and confusion, as Lagos State Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development officials, security operatives and hoodlums demolished the houses in the community.
The CSO said that aside infringement on the socio-economic rights of the displaced families, the demolition overrode the provision of existing laws and regulations safeguarding Lagos.
According to S4C findings, the dispute has persisted for decades. Court judgments dating to colonial era had made several pronouncements regarding ownership of the contested land.
The present dispute is between the Aina-Tayo, Ogunbiyi and Adewusi family descendants and Nichemtex Staff Co-operative Thrift and Credit Society.
The descendant family claims to be customary tenants on the land from time immemorial under the over-lordship of Adeboruwa of Igbogbo Kingdom, and has exercised acts of ownership, subject to the Adeboruwa’s interest.
But Nichemtex Staff claimed title to the land by an allocation from the Lagos State government and acquisition from one Onire Ajibode family of Baiyeku and the descendant family.
The dispute is pending before the High Court of Lagos, Ikorodu Division. Residents, however, woke up on May 31, 2022, to a heavy presence of government officials, security operatives and hoodlums with large hydraulic equipment. They selectively demolished property belonging to the descendant family and property of third parties, who claimed title through the family. Property of those, who claimed title through Nichemtex co-operative society, were untouched.
S4C noted: “State actors, particularly in Lagos, have an objectionable pattern of land disposal through unlawful demolition for urban renewal purposes. These exercises usually render nugatory constitutional/legislative standards and domesticated international human rights norms. This flagrant disregard for the law is one too many. The procedure employed woefully falls short of Lagos law on demolition.
“The demolition exercise’s spiteful disregard of a pending suit before a competent court is unfortunate. In a civilised society, the Lagos government, where firmly persuaded by its interest, ought to have applied to the court as an interested party.”