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Lagos Assembly urges Ambode to put demolition of slums on hold

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

Residents of riverine areas in the state had staged a protest to the Assembly two weeks ago over the planned demolition of shanties.

They had urged the lawmakers to intervene and save them from the impending government action.

Presenting a report on the matter during plenary, Tejuosho (APC-Mushin I), said that the committee, during a visit to the areas, discovered that most buildings in the slums were sinking.

“We 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 health hazard will not be easy to curtail,” she said.

Tejuosho advised Ambode to put in place a plan to relocate the slum dwellers before the demolition.

Other lawmakers, following the presentation, took turns to express divergent views on the issue..

In his comment, Mr David Setonji (APC-Badagry II) said that the residents should be properly relocated and not just sent away.

“These people are Nigerians; if we send them away they will go somewhere else and become security risk; lets treat them as fellow human beings,’’ he said.

The Majority Leader of the House, Mr 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 said.

However, Mr Moshood Oshun (APC- Mainland II) said that the residents were occupying the place illegally and were not government tenants to deserve relocation.

Mr Abiodun Tobun (APC- Epe I), who noted that the hallmark of any government was to enhance a cleaner, safer and conducive environment, also said that illegality should not be condoned.

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

The Deputy Chief Whip of the House, Mrs Omotayo Oduntan also that residents were occupying the place illegally.

“The state cannot condone such a thing; what is not legal is not legal,’’ she said..

Rounding up the debate, the Speaker, Mr Mudashiru Obasa, said the House would set up a committee to look into the matter thoroughly.

Obasa urged the governor to give the House some time to know what to do on the matter.

“If previous governments had done what was expected, there won’t be shanties and slum dwellers today.

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

“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 government does this free,” he said.

Obasa, who noted that slums were everywhere, even in the U.S, said that the government should be able to manage them and put something in place that would phase out shanties.

He said that the government should consider those who were not employed, and reconsider the plan to move bulldozers to the areas to pull demolish the shanties and slums.

The speaker directed the Clerk of the House, Mr Sanni Azeez, to write a letter to Gov. Ambode, urging him to engage the slum dwellers, rather than demolishing their buildings.