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Confusion as LAWMA, LAGESC demolish approved property in Lagos

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A businessman, Oladele Soneye, has accused officials of the Lagos State Environment Sanitation Corps and the Lagos Waste Management Authority of demolishing his car wash along the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway, in the Abule Egba area of the state.

PUNCH Metro gathered that Soneye paid the landowners, who also owned a church in the area.

However, a road construction project was said to be ongoing in the area when the government, upon realising that the construction would affect the church’s building, compensated the church and demolished its building.

Soneye, however, noted that the compensation did not extend to where he operated. He explained that before starting the business, he obtained necessary permits from the local government and the Lagos State Planning and Environmental Monitoring Agency – the agency in charge of all urban spaces in the state.

Despite obtaining the permits, he accused LAGESC and LAWMA officials of demolishing his car wash and seizing his equipment.

He said, “I got the local government approval and still proceeded to get the state approval because the local government said its approval was subject to the state approval. I visited LASPEMA, paid to the state and to the agency for inspection, among other things.

“Afterwards, officials of the agency came for inspection, approved and gave me the permit for the car wash. The permit was a conditional one that required me to pay a certain amount yearly. I was also given a sticker to paste at the entrance of the car wash.

“Afterwards, we started the car wash business. I was not around when officials of LAGESC invaded the premises, ravaged my staff and took one of them, Kayode Omotoso, to their head office at Oshodi.

“He (Omotoso) showed them the approval we got from the state government and they said we were not supposed to get approval for that place. They threatened and collected about N76,000 before releasing Omotoso in the evening.”

Oladele explained further that officials from the Lagos State Parks and Gardens Agency also threatened them for using the space for car wash, adding that he reported the continuous threats to the management of LASPEMA.

The businessman noted that the feedback he got was that LASPEMA had cautioned LASPARK, adding that things took another turn when LAWMA officials led by one Henry Okadigbo said he had been ordered to demolish the car wash.

The 40-year-old said, “When the pressure was much from the agencies, my lawyer wrote to all of them, including the agency that gave us the permit; the commissioners and permanent secretaries under the Ministry of Environment, and the Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development. I also included Okadigbo’s picture in the petitions.

“Surprisingly, three days after submitting the petitions, more than 80 armed mobile policemen and officials of LAWMA and LAGESC came, chased my staff away, demolished my car wash and took all the equipment used at the car wash.

“I spent over N14m on that car wash. When I told the head of LASPEMA, who gave me the permit, he became upset and said he would meet with the governor over the matter. I want justice for what they did to my approved business.”

Oladele’s lawyer, Effiong Inibehe, in a petition to the state Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, said the agencies took the law into their hands.

He demanded N100m as compensation for the demolition.

Describing the demolition as strange and embarrassing, the General Manager, LASPEMA, Daisi Oso, said the agency was not carried along.

He said, “We granted him (Soneye) a permit for the car wash. When we learnt about it (demolition), we swung into action in terms of inter-ministerial engagements to be able to understand why they had to do that.

“The agency was not carried along; if the agency had been carried along, it (demolition) wouldn’t have happened. I asked Mr Soneye if the permits were displayed and he said he did and why it now happened the way it happened is the riddle there.

“Up till now, it (demolition) is still strange to me. The fact that they saw the agency’s documents there and all of a sudden, they went there to demolish it is strange and embarrassing.”

Contacted, LAGESC’s spokesperson, Lukman Ajayi said, “If they were not served, no LAGESC officer has the audacity to demolish the structure.

“If the owner of the car wash has any contrary opinion, he can bring his papers, come to our office to lodge a formal complaint for demolition of his business investment.”

The spokesperson for LAWMA, Folashade Kadri, said the agency did not carry out any enforcement in the area.

“And we don’t have any Henry Okadigbo working in LAWMA according to my findings,” she added.

Soneye, however, noted that a LAWMA representative confirmed to him that Okadigbo was a LAWMA official.

He also noted that Okadigbo pasted a LAWMA seal order at the car wash, adding that he and other officials of the agency were present during the demolition.

Our correspondent obtained video clips showing the LAWMA and LAGESC officials demolishing Soneye’s car wash with a bulldozer.

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