HURIWA Condemns Lagos State’s Rampant Demolitions; Calls for Accountability and Human Rights Protection

Oru Leonard 

The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), has expressed grave concerns over the recent wave of demolitions in Lagos State, particularly in the Ibeju-Lekki and Epe areas, where 80% of buildings have been deemed unapproved by the state government.

The premier civil rights advocacy group considers the revelation by Oluyinka Olumide, the Lagos State Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, alarming. “It has sparked fear and anxiety among homeowners, who now face the devastating prospect of losing their properties and being forced back into the rental market.

“The ongoing demolition spree, ostensibly due to a lack of building approvals or constructions on government-acquired land, has been described by many as both tragic and unnecessary. According to the commissioner, a significant number of these unapproved structures are situated on agricultural land sold by families unaware of the land’s zoning restrictions. This highlights a profound failure in the planning and regulatory framework that should prevent such situations from arising,” lamented HURIWA’s National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko.

HURIWA contended that the demolitions represent a gross miscarriage of justice and a blatant disregard for the rights and livelihoods of the affected individuals. The association argued that the Lagos State Government, under Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, should have taken proactive measures to prevent the construction of these unapproved buildings rather than resorting to demolitions, emphasizing that such drastic actions not only destroy homes but also disrupt lives, livelihoods, and the broader economy.

“The situation in Lagos has reached a critical point, where landlords have become an endangered species, falling victim to systemic corruption within the land registry and the inefficiencies of the state’s planning authorities. The recent statements by the Lagos State Physical Planning Permit Authority (LASPPPA) officials further underscore this issue, as they admit to being compromised by property developers. This corruption at the infancy level of development raises serious questions about the integrity of the regulatory process and the accountability of those in charge.

“The state’s approach to resolving these issues has been marked by inconsistency and a lack of compassion. While the government has initiated a 90-day amnesty period for property owners to obtain planning permits without penalty fees, this measure appears to be too little, too late. The damage caused by the demolitions is already profound, affecting thousands of residents and leaving many homeless. The government’s failure to enforce regulations from the onset has led to a scenario where reactive measures are causing more harm than good,” Onwubiko expressed.

Therefore, HURIWA called on the Lagos State Government to halt the demolition activities immediately and to engage in meaningful dialogue with affected homeowners, urging that there must be a transparent investigation into the role of compromised officials in the approval process and stringent measures put in place to prevent such corruption in the future. Furthermore, HURIWA tasked the government to explore alternative solutions that do not involve the destruction of homes, such as regularizing existing buildings where feasible.

The association also urged the federal government to refrain from participating in these demolition activities, which exacerbate the already severe housing deficit in Nigeria. “The actions of both the Lagos State Government and the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) have been likened to locusts consuming the properties of citizens during a time of acute housing shortages. This approach is not only despicable but also counterproductive, as it undermines public trust and exacerbates the housing crisis,” HURIWA stated.

Moreover, HURIWA highlighted the urgent need for a comprehensive overhaul of the land administration and regulatory framework in Lagos State to include strict enforcement of zoning laws, regular monitoring of construction activities, and severe penalties for corrupt officials. The association emphasized that by addressing the root causes of the problem, the government can ensure sustainable development and protect the rights of all citizens.

In conclusion, HURIWA underscored that the recent demolitions in Lagos State are a stark reminder of the need for accountability, transparency, and respect for human rights in governance. The human rights group conveyed its commitment to stand in solidarity with the affected homeowners and called for immediate and decisive action to rectify the situation. “The government must prioritize the welfare of its citizens and work towards creating an environment where everyone has the opportunity to live in dignity and security,” HURIWA concluded.

Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko,
National Coordinator,
Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA)

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