The Federal Housing Authority (FHA) has allegedly commenced demolition of houses in the Festac Phase 2 area of Lagos State, leaving residents in distress.
Here’s all we know about the issue so far.
On Friday, November 17, 2023, Akintola Olagbemiro, Zonal Managing Director of FHA, South-West Zone, told the press that residents of houses marked for demolition at the Festac Phase 2 area of Lagos State had violated rules.
According to Olagbemiro, the occupants of the houses continued to erect structures in the area despite a stop order from the FHA.
Earlier in May 2022, the spokesman of the FHA, Kenneth Chigelu, raised an alarm over illegal land deals in FESTAC town.
“Our attention has been drawn to the activities of unscrupulous persons claiming to be agents of the FHA for the sale of land in FESTAC Town. Members of the public are warned not to do business with these imposters. The said advertisement is a scam.”
While addressing the press on Friday, Olagbemiro said:
“A lot of illegality has gone up in that place, and I mean an illegal development. And we are looking at how best we can solve this and ensure people live in a serene environment. We want to ensure that we do our part by making people live in quality houses for them to live in.
“Unfortunately, we have had a series of issues of illegal estate developers, illegal people selling lands, people who claimed they owned the place and we have litigation from many angles.”
Also addressing pressmen during a visit to the area where houses were marked for demolition, Francesca Michael-James, Zonal Deputy General Manager of Urban and Regional Planning, noted that the FHA was ready to demolish houses marked for demolition and deal with those with no regard for the law.
“We already have the permission of our management. So, I’ll also source for security. When we have that security backing, we’ll start to enforce. The structures on the road, the pipeline settings and the ones that were built after that stakeholder meeting where we all said everybody should wait.”
According to the FHA officials, notices had been served since August informing residents of the planned demolition of illegal structures.
Following the FHA delegation’s visit on Friday, some videos shared on social media indicate that the demolition of illegal structures commenced over the weekend.
One video captured distraught residents out on the streets with their properties. Furniture, electronics, bathroom and toilet fixtures, and mattresses, among other items, were spotted out on the streets.
Another showed residents watching a bulldozer pull down one of the buildings in the area.
Distortion of Master Plan for Festac
According to Michael-James, the demolition became necessary because the activities of land grabbers have disrupted the initial plan for Festac Town.
“In the Master Plan, we have the major artilleries, collector and minor roads, for example, the standard of the Right of Way is about 50 feet, which was observed by occupants of the 1st to fifth avenues, but at several other places in the town, what we have is distortion of the Master Plan. Sand filling or road levelling is no longer in place.
Surv. Lawal Umar-Salihu, a member of the FHA delegation, explained that from the total land allocation of 2000 x 24.64 hectares earmarked for the Festac Town development, the government has assigned only 30%. He said 70% had been encroached upon.
In November 2021, the FHA sparked public outrage after it demolished houses in FESTAC. Speaking to the press after the demolition, FHA zonal manager, Olagbemiro, said those affected were given more than 60 days notice, but they refused to quit.
“We didn’t even go there after the end of the 21 days because we also wanted to be sure that we were doing the right thing. We wanted to make sure that we have done all the markings, and they were informed, up to the extent that some that were even at the foundation level still went ahead and continued, which is not right.
“We saw so many things, no approval, no original papers, nothing. Nobody could give us a single, simple approval either from Lagos State government or from Federal.”
This is a developing story.