Lagos Assembly Seals Off 2 Buildings

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An illegal building situated at 48 and 50 Balogun Street, Lagos Island, belonging to Alhaji Tajudeen Olugbode has been sealed off on the orders of the Lagos State House of Assembly Committee on Physical Planning, Urban Development and Central Business Districts.

The order was handed down by the committee at the investigative session on the activities of the Lagos State Urban Renewal Agency (LASURA). This was sequel to a submission made by the State Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Tpl. Olutoyin Ayinde, that an in-depth study of the properties of the agency was carried out and during the exercise the structure in question, owned by the Gbode Ventures Limited boss, was discovered inhabitable and ought to be pulled down.

The session was called to review the tenancy agreement between LASURA and developers of properties on Lagos Island according to the Chairman of the Committee, Mufutau Egberongbe.

Egberongbe, said the session was part of the oversight functions of the committee with the responsibility of managing matters relating to approval of building plans, control and removal of illegal structures, urban renewal programmes and matters relating to Central Business District Development in the state.

Egberongbe explained that the session is not a witch-hunting exercise, but aimed at investigating the internal workings of the agency, request for documentation (both oral and written) from stakeholders and proffering necessary assistance towards repositioning operations of the agency.

He further stated that some people have turned the state’s properties to theirs, especially within the Central Business Districts, while some property developers and the tenants of LASURA have failed to remit money into the state government’s purse for the past ten years.

The Chairman further said the Committee discovered that some transactions between the agency and the developers were not under agreement and that some companies have broken the terms of agreement as in the case of Gbode Ventures over the sealed building.

“If there is no agreement, there will be no room for accountability and probity,” Egberongbe said.

He reiterated that after the verification exercise of some documents, it was realised that some agreements were not firm while most of the deeds remain porous and corrupt.

Contributing, a member of the Committee, Wahab Alawiye-King, observed that over 131 buildings did not reach an agreement with the state government, doubting whether they pay tax due to their illegal activities.

He criticised LASURA for not having the data base of the structures belonging to them.

In his submission, Tpl. Ayinde said the ministry’s officials and the immediate past General Manager of the agency visited a few sites of the agency before he left office.

He declared that against claims that the agency was broke, it has properties that could generate revenue. He therefore directed the former General Manager to take inventory of those properties.

Ayinde further explained that it was the inventory taken by the former General Manager that exposed the hidden ones like the properties belonging Gbode Ventures. The Commissioner said these irregularities have been on for years and there is a need for more investigation of activities, since the establishment of the agency, in order to determine the duration and status of any property without agreement. Some of the developers at the session claimed to have documents, stressing that they have always made payments to the agency.

—Eromosele Ebhomele