Lagos residents decry use of abandoned, uncompleted buildings as hideout for miscreants
•We are working on due processes, says Govt
Residents have called on the Lagos State Government to enforce the ban on illegal occupation of abandoned buildings and properties under construction across the state.
At present, the city appears to be at the mercy of pickpockets, criminals and traffic robbers, who are terrorising residents everyday.
At a security meeting in May, 2021, the State Government pledged to demolish abandoned and uncompleted buildings across the state.
The State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, during the Security Stakeholders Town Hall Meeting at Ikeja, said that government would continue to demolish shanties.
He said abandoned buildings and properties were being monitored, as hoodlums and miscreants were converting them into crime havens, from which they plan and launch their criminal missions.
He also said the state would also confiscate abandoned buildings.
According to him, shanties, abandoned buildings and vehicles were hideouts for criminals, hence, should be tackled.
He said: “These shanties, by serving as hideouts for criminals, have exacerbated the insecurity situation in Lagos State.
“This clean up exercise will continue, even as we strive to ensure the creation of jobs and economic opportunities that will take people off the streets and give them the wherewithal to afford decent accommodation.
“In the context of security, it is to ensure that we contain and arrest every form of aggression and crime that threatens the development, progress and growth of the state. And by doing so improve upon the welfare and quality of life of the citizens.”
However, hoodlums and miscreants have continued to find abode in these abandoned and uncompleted buildings.
A visit to an uncompleted building near Otedola Housing Estate along Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, revealed that the building has become a haven for miscreants.
The one-storey building and the adjoining ones near Capital Oil petro station have been taken over by miscreants.
One of the occupants, who spoke to The Guardian, however said, he normally hawks in traffic and retires to sleep when there is no traffic.
The occupier said he started living there since he came to Lagos two months ago.
He also said he was not alone, as about five of them sleep in the building at night.
Similarly, a woman, who occupies an uncompleted building near Otedola Housing Estate gate, said she came to the place after she was ejected by her landlord.
She confirmed that many people were in the place until some government officers came some time ago to eject them.
But a resident at Otedola Estate, who gave his name simply as Collin said residents no longer feel free to walk around the gate at night because of incessant attacks by miscreants.
According to him, the estate has lodged several complaints to government after a series of attacks on motorists and pedestrians, but after some raids, the hoodlums came back.
There was also the National Provident Fund building, now known as Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) on Essume Street, Iyana Era, along Lagos-Badagry Expressway.
The building, now referred to as Ile Nla (a massive house) by the people of the community, is one of the properties abandoned by the Federal Government in Lagos.
Residents said the 18- storey-building has become a haven for miscreants, who have converted some of its open spaces to their toilet facilities.
According to a resident, kidnappers, ritualists, armed robbers and cultists have found the complex useful for their nefarious activities.
“Even with the presence of artisans around the property, it’s still not a safe place for women and children at night time when the artisans leave the premises,” the resident said.
Other major streets, where abandoned property are located in Victoria Island include Ahmadu Bello Way, Adetokunbo Ademola Street, Bishop Aboyade Cole Street, Samuel Manuwa Street, Sanusi Fafunwa Street, Karimu Kotun Street, Tiamiyu Savage Street, Ligali Ayorinde Avenue, Water Corporation Close, Ozumba Mbadiwe Avenue, Adeola Hopewell Road, Adeyemo Alakija, Idowu Martins, Kofo Abayomi, Saka Tinubu, Adeola Odeku and Akin Adesola Street.
In Ikoyi, abandoned properties are mostly located on Awolowo Road, Keffi Street, Falomo Roundabout, Norman Williams, Raymond Njoku Road, Alexander Avenue, Lugard Avenue, Club Road, First and Second Avenues, Federal Secretariat Road, Bank Road, Osborne Road, Glover Road, Onikoyi Crescent, Cameroon Road, Bourdillon Road and Oyinkan Abayomi Drive.
But the State Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Idris Salako, told The Guardian that government is doing the necessary ground work to tackle the issue
He said: “ It is a fact that people are living in uncompleted buildings, some work in uncompleted buildings and sleep there. They come from nowhere. If you know the number of people that come to Lagos every minute, who have nowhere to put their heads, believing that there are jobs, you will marvel.
“These are people that inhabit these abandoned buildings. We are saying that it is no longer going to be like that. We have started taking some of these buildings down.”
The commissioner said the state has been urging owners of such abandoned structures to come and take possession.
“If you know you have any abandoned building in the state, take ownership. Come to us to see how we can manage the reconstruction of the buildings, so that they would not be a haven to criminals or miscreants and thugs, who unleash mayhem on the state,” he said.
On why it is delaying demolishing the buildings, he said, there are processes and the state is on it.
He said: “We have to identify such abandoned buildings and see the particular ones that are distressed and the extent of distress. Those that are too distressed will go down.
“The Lagos State Building Control Agency (LABSCA) is removing distressed buildings across the state, which is being done without any process. For the abandoned ones, where construction may be stopped, we encourage the owners to come forward and take possession and renovate such property for habitation.”