Lagos Assembly Advises Ambode On Planned Demolition of Riverine Shanties

The Lagos State House of Assembly on Monday appealed to Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode to reconsider its planned demolition of shanties and slums in the riverine areas across the state.

The House made the plea following the presentation of a report by the Assembly’s ad hoc committee on the matter led by Mrs Adefunmilayo Tejuosho, the Chairman, House Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights, and Petitions.

Tejuosho (APC-Mushin II) said during her presentation that the buildings in the slums are sinking, and that the ground floor was no longer visible.

“We will appreciate what the government is doing to make things better, not for them alone but for the people of the state.

“It is not conducive for them to continue to dwell there. However, I think we should crave the indulgence of the governor to actually relocate these persons instead of throwing them into the street.

“If we allow this, they will go and congregate somewhere and the hazard to the health will not be easy to curtail,” she said.

The lawmaker, however, advised Ambode to put in measure to relocate the slum dwellers before the demolition.

The lawmakers took turns to express divergent views on the issue.

In his comments, Hon. Moshood Oshun from Lagos Mainland Constituency 2 said that the residents were occupying the place illegally, stressing that they were not government tenants.

According to him, there are slums everywhere; in Iwaya, Makoko, and other places, saying that all these should be considered also.

While some of them support the demolition, others suggested that the Governor should have a discussion with the residents and see how the matter could be resolved

Hon. Abiodun Tobun from Epe Constituency 1, stated that the hallmark of any government was to enhance a cleaner, safer and conducive environment.

“We must see how to move the state forward. We must ensure we take some decisive decision. I symphathise with the slum dwellers, but we cannot compromise what is not good in the state,” he said.

The Deputy Chief Whip of the House, Hon. Omotayo Oduntan stressed that the residents were occupying the place illegally, adding that their health hazard is high.

She said further that the state could not condone such a thing and that what is not legal is not legal, saying that building shanties is not lawful.

Another lawmaker, Hon. David Setonji said that the residents should be considered as they are Nigerians, and human beings, and that they will go somewhere else if they were sent away and constitute security risks.

The Majority Leader of the House, Hon. Sanai Agunbiade said that the matter should be properly considered, and that the House should look into what the plan of the government is.

“We should look at the pros and cons of the matter. It is better we hear the government out to see what plan they have,” he stated.

Concluding the matter, the Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Obasa said that it is all about the comfort put in place, and that the House could not close its eyes to the fact that it is their responsibilities to do what is right.

“The emergence of these shanties and slums was not without the knowledge of the government. If the government at that time had done what was expected, there won’t be shanties and slums dwellers today.

“Demolishing the shanties and slums would only raise another shanties and slums. It is giving them an opportunity to go out and start it somewhere.

According to him, it was wrong for the Ministry of the Environment to say that the slums gave rise to the increasing number of kidnappers, saying that the shanties had been existing before the latest activities of the kidnappers.

“We appeal to the government to hold discussions with these people and if need be, create a place where they can be resettled. We are not canvassing the govt to do this free and can be done,” he said.

Obasa added slums were everywhere even in America, but that the government should be able to manage it, and put something in place that will put an end to the existence of slums and shanties in the state.

He said that the government should consider those who are not employed rather than taking bulldozers there to pull the shanties and slums down.

The Speaker then directed the Acting Clerk of the House, Mr. Azeez Sanni, to write a letter to the Governor to engage the slum dwellers rather than demolishing their buildings to give the residents a new lease of life.

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