By Debo Oladimeji
The Maroko evictees that were resettled in Ikota Low -Cost Housing Estate in Eti-Osa local council of Lagos State are worried that demolition of houses in their community has aggravated from emergency structures to government allocated HFP flats against the court order that they should go for mediation. They have gone to the High Court, Yaba to stop the demolition of their houses and they asked them to go for mediation with their lawyer. But while waiting for the mediation to take place, unfortunately, demolition continued.
One of the landlords, Mr. Abdulsherif Olayinka who doubles as the Treasurer of the Landlords Association in the community said that:
“What is worrisome concerning this matter is that we have been to everywhere. Even some government offices and they said they don’t know anything about the demolition.
“We want to see the blue print of the people demolishing our houses. We have gone to court and they say that the landlords and the developers should go for mediation. We did not solicit for any developer. It is the developers that come here on their own.”
“We told them that we have our lawyer Dr. Felix Morka. That they should let us call our lawyer. That was how landlord went against the developer that they brought. He recalled that the next thing they saw was demolition of their houses.
He explained that they want Ikota to be developed for Ikota people. “Where is the land to move us to? People are now dying while fighting for their rights. They are given people a token to take over their house. A plot of land here worth N300 million. ”
He regretted that many poor women are now fleeing their houses.” Had it been you came here last week Monday it will be a shock to you. They are still saying they are coming to demolish government flats when the landlords have not sold their houses. You know how expensive to rent a house in Nigeria now. Even to get a room self-contained. So where will those people they are evicting get money to rent a place?
The PRO of the Landlords Association, Mr. Olumide Onipede explained that they are living under threat in this community. “We don’t have peace of mind in our own home anymore, and these are allocated houses. We were moved from Maroko to this place. We have our documents with us. They say once beaten twice shy. How can some people just come to our community saying that we should forcefully sell our land to them for what? You cannot buy somebody’s property forcefully.”
He said that the information that some landlords/landladies are already collecting N1.5million from the developers is not genuine. ”The developers are acting as if they have bought the houses from the landlords. They are just using us to play games. They will now tell you as a tenant to leave the house with N200,000. That the house belongs to them which is just a game. The owner of the house is not informed that somebody has taken possession of his house. Let them come on air and show it on air that they bought the house for 1.5million from any of the landlords/landladies. You cannot buy the houses from anybody when there is an issue over the land. They are not buying the houses from the rightful owners they are just playing tricks.
The secretary of the Landlords Association Mr. Shonuga Olushola Adeyemi explained the demolition has aggravated to the level of the developer demolishing HFP flats allocated to the landlords under duress.
He said that:“Let them tell us what are they demolishing for. You are demolishing peoples house for what? Let us see the faceless developer. And what is the project for? Is it to return everybody back to the village? Is that their plan?
The government promised to build about 10,000 homes for Maroko evictees. I can remember vividly the governor of Lagos state then that promised after a lot of negotiations then said that they were going to build 10,000 homes for the Maroko evictees. They only afford to make 2000 homes. This HFP building was neglected because they don’t build it for us. We that are still living in the building, we are suffering because during the dry season everywhere look hectic, hot.
However, the President of the Landlords Association, Mr Titus Ewarawon explained that although they are ready for the mediation but they may get to the mediation and the landlords/landladies may not agree with what they have for them. “We can get to the mediation and we cannot agree with what they say because this place it is the government that resettled us here. What we want is let the government develop this place for us and let us live a comfortable life. They cannot resettled us here from Maroko and some people will say they want to move us to another place again.”
Meanwhile, the counsel to the Ikota Landlords’ Association, Dr Felix Morka has said that the demolition of houses should stop and the developers should dialogue with the Landlords’ Association as their the real stakeholders.