Lekki residents protest illegal access code, street gates
Urge Sanwo-Olu’s intervention
Residents and landlords in Lekki Phase One, who are piqued by the mounting of street gates and compulsion of use of Access Code on residents by North-East Lekki Neighbourhood Association (NELNA) have called for governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s intervention.
The aggrieved property owners, led by Prince Ayoola Ojeikere, protested against blockage of Admiralty Road and demand for Access Code to ply them.
Describing the actions as infringement of their rights to movement on public roads, Ojeikere, the spokesperson for the residents, called on Sanwo-Olu to stop erection of gates on government roads and issuance of Access Codes to ply them.
According to him, some group of people, in the name of residents associations had been taking laws into their hands for selfish interest in the area, thereby making life difficult for others.
Ojeikere, whose property is on Fatai Arobieke Street, said that the issuance of access code to road users, had multiplied hardship and stress of both the motoring residents and pedestrians, in accessing their homes and business outfits located within the area.
He explained that residents were subjected to harrowing experience of trekking a distance from the gate to their homes, because commercial vehicles were barred from accessing the gates.
He said that the development had not only driven prospective tenants and business owners away from the area, but also brought mental disturbance to visitors and friends of residents.
Ojeikere urged the governor to enforce the law and abolish the unlawful act that had made businesses unattractive to people.
He said that such urgent action would avert a possible confrontation with residents, which might result in the breach of public peace.
He hinted that the aggrieved group had forwarded protest letters to the state’s Ministry of Transportation, Environment, the Lagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA), Eti-Osa Local Council and had held several meetings with relevant state agents, especially at the Ministry of Transportation.
Corroborating, another aggrieved resident on Posun Adekoya Street, Mr Afolabi Oke, added that the gate closure during day time had made life difficult for workers, who needed to trek long distance on alternative routes to access markets, that could have been accessed easily if the nearby gate had been left opened.
Another aggrieved landlord, Chief Stanley Odijie maintained that he had done his investigation and found out that NELNA was not known to the state Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, hence all their activities were illegal.
According to him, it has become a nightmare for visitors to come and visit them freely because of the fear of blockage of Admiralty Road with gate and request for access code.
Odijie, who noted that Mr Patrick Akinwuntan-led executive of NELNA excos was not the first in the area, said residents could not explain the reason behind the passion for the gate and introduction of toll through access code.
The Divisional Police Officer, Maroko Police Headquarters, Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP) Ganiyu Raji, who spoke at a reconciliatory meeting between some community leaders and aggrieved residents, lamented the development , saying that it had become a fashion around Lekki and environs.
According to him, since the government’s directives, rules and regulations are clear about erection of gates, every approved gate must be left open between 5:00a.m. and 12 midnight.
Raji urged leaders of various communities in Lekki Phase One not to over-hype the security situation in the area, as he had not recorded any form of life-threatening crime reports since he assumed office as DPO in the area.
According to him, when any approved gate is closed by 12 midnight till 5.00a.m., security guards must man the gate in case of emergency or security patrol.
The police officer, who explained that there were no street gates in Victoria Island and Ikoyi, said people who had businesses should not be disturbed, saying, “if you do, you are violating their rights.”
Raji said that every step to enhance security must be done within the ambit of the law, adding that he would continue to have interactive sessions monthly with residents.
The police boss, who also pledged to station a patrol vehicle and team at the area for proximity to arrest crimes, urged residents to do due diligence when engaging domestic staff.
Reacting, Chairman, Lekki Residents Association (LERA), Yomi Idowu, justified erection of gates in some streets, but admitted that putting gates at major places like Admiralty Road was not necessary.
Idowu, who noted that if there were enough police officers, there would have been no need for gates, said however that gates should not be erected to inconvenience residents.
Stressing that there were many miscreants and street urchins disturbing people in Lekki, Idowu said gates do stop them from walking around and breaking into people’s homes.
Also, the Chairman of NELNA, Patrick Akinwuntan, said the gate was part of the proactive measures to ward-off crimes in the area.
The former Managing Director of Ecobank Nigeria Plc, noted that the association had tried to provide a shuttle bus to commute people to their various points within the estate, after alighting from commercial vehicles at the gate.
Akinwuntan, whose association erected a gate at Admiralty Road, said that a growing shanty within the area and other security threats necessitated the gate.
Also, Alhaja Fausa Jenty , who represented the Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Transportation, Abdulhafiz Toriola, at the event disclosed government’s guidelines and regulations regarding street gate approval.
“Erection of gate without approval is illegal and such, on road networks constructed by the state, it is to be removed within seven days after, which a notice will be pasted.
“If approved and we receive petition from any member of the association, we will remove it. Even if approved, the gates must be kept opened in the daytime and locked between 12 midnight and 5:00a.m.
“This gate must be see-through type and must be manned by security guards employed by residents. No emergency officers or security agents must be denied access at the gate.
“Nothing is stated about Access Code in the Executive Order. All these we attached to approval issued to any residents association that seek approval for the gate,” she said.
A solicitor to Ayo Ojeikere, who was part of the stakeholders consultations, Jide Ologun, commended Lagos State government for giving the rule of law its pride of place.
According to him, when citizens ridicule the laws of the state, a leeway has been constructed for anarchy.
Ologun, also applauded the courage and professionalism displayed by the police boss towards conflict resolution and public peace.