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Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway: Okun-Ajah Community Raises Alarm Over Proposed Demolition of 2,000 Houses

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The Okun-Ajah Community has appealed to both the Federal and Lagos State governments for assistance, as they face an alleged unauthorized alteration of the Lagos-Calabar coastal highway contract route, endangering 2000 homes with potential demolition.

The community, under the leadership of Baale Chief (Alh) Sikiru Olukesi Okanlawon and secretary Balogun Kamorudeen, has voiced concerns that the Ministry of Works is about to impose what they describe as “injustice and harm” upon them.

The extensive 700-kilometer road infrastructure project, slated to take eight years to finish, will require a monumental N15 trillion investment.

The pilot phase of construction has been initiated at Eko Atlantic City, slated to extend to Lekki Deep Seaport, with an initial funding of N1.06 trillion already allocated.

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Minister of Works, David Umahi, has revealed plans for this innovative 10-lane highway, which is estimated to cost N4 billion per kilometer and will be the first of its kind in Africa.

At a stakeholders’ meeting in Eko Hotel and Suites, Lagos, Umahi described the demolition as a ‘tough decision’, highlighting the provision of N2.75 billion in compensation for properties demolished within 0 to 3 kilometers of the channel.

He stressed the economic necessity of such actions and attributed the positive outcomes to policies initiated under President Bola Tinubu’s regime.

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Despite this, several property owners and communities have criticized the ministry, alleging unjust and sometimes blatantly illegal identification of properties marked for demolition in the road construction process.

Through a press release, the community voiced concerns, appealing to President Bola Tinubu, Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, legislators representing Eti-Osa Local Government Area, and the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), among others, for assistance.

It said: “Sometime in the year 2006 the Okun-Ajah Community was granted a Certificate of Occupancy over their communal land in Okun-Ajah. The Survey Plan attached to the Certificate of Occupancy clearly depicted the portion of the communal land earmarked for the then proposed coastal road. Knowing full well that that portion of their land had been committed to a federal project, members of the community avoided building on the right of way earmarked for the coastal road.

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“However, the original road alignment was changed because many people had illegally built on the right of way. The second road alignment was much more relatively free from building development as only five houses had been erected on that road alignment while the rest of the route is vacant land.

“Surprisingly, the second road alignment has also been changed because some of the owners of the five buildings and the vacant lands on that road alignment are influential personalities. They have now redirected the road alignment to the residential part of Okun-Ajah Community which will lead to the demolition of over 2000 houses including our ancestral homes and our Oba’s palace.

“The pertinent question that we want the Minister of Works to answer to the whole nation is why should the houses of over 2000 people who did not build on the age-long right of way be destroyed because they want to save five houses and vacant lands? Why? This action is certainly not in the interest of peace, order, and good government of Nigeria in general and Lagos State in particular as envisaged by sections 4 and 5 of the Constitution of Nigeria.

“This is the reason the Okun-Ajah people are calling on Nigerians’ to prevail on the Minister to reconsider his proposed action. The Okun-Ajah people are also calling on President Tinubu to urgently investigate the circumstances leading to the jettisoning of the second road alignment which is much more free of building development and the adoption of the third road alignment which will lead to the demolition of over 2000 houses and the Baale’s palace.

They further implored the Inspector-General of Police and the National Security Adviser to ensure that law enforcement personnel do not become instruments of harm against the Okun-Ajah community, stating that the community is prepared to defend itself against any potential aggression.