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Lobbyists storm ministry over move to demolish illegal structures at Lagos National Stadium

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• It’s natural, but we won’t succumb to blackmail, says Nesiama
• Eviction notice expires September 1

In a bid to save their properties from being crushed by bulldozers, some shop owners at the National Stadium, Lagos, have reportedly been putting pressure on the sports ministry to stop officials of the Ministerial Implementation Committee from carrying out the exercise.

The 14-day eviction notice given by the Federal Government to shop owners to remove their ‘illegal structures’ for the Restoration Committee to return the complex to its original design will expire on September 1.

Since 2004, the National Stadium in Surulere, Lagos, has been abandoned with virtually all aspects of the complex, including the seats, tartan tracks, turf and the media centre in bad state. Some Nigerians have capitalized on the poor state of the complex to erect ‘illegal structures’ at all available space, thereby defacing the original design of the stadium.

But the Ministerial Implementation Committee set up by the current Sports Minister, Sunday Dare, is bent on correcting the situation.

The Guardian learnt yesterday that some desperate shop owners are now in Abuja lobbying ‘their business partners’ in the sports ministry to persuade the Ministerial Implementation Committee to spare their offices and warehouses.

The source hinted yesterday that some of the shop owners had complied with the government’s 14-day notice by removing their properties.

“Some of them have actually obeyed the directive by moving their things out of the stadium complex, but some are now moving from one office to another in Abuja lobbying to help them persuade the Ministerial Implementation Committee to spare their shops. Some of these sports ministry officials have been their business partners for years,” the source stated.

Contacted yesterday, the co-chairman of the Ministerial Committee on ‘Restoration’ of the Lagos National Stadium, former Technical Director of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), Retired Navy Commodore Omatseye Nesiama, said he had no knowledge of such lobby by any group of people.

He added: “It is natural for people to lobby, but I trust the sports minister, who in his wisdom carefully selected members of this Implementation Committee from different backgrounds. I don’t see any member of this committee succumbing to any form of lobby because it will be in the interest of all Nigerians to make the National Stadium, Lagos a befitting place. We will move in any time from now.”

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