Indications emerged on Wednesday that the Lagos State Government might have backtracked on its earlier decision not to permit the development of an estate on a flood-prone green belt between the Magodo Phase 1 and Phase 2 housing schemes.
The green belt, which is located in a vast gorge that separates Magodo GRA phases 1 and 2, is located in the Ikosi-Isheri Local Council Development Area of the state.
Initial plans to build an estate on the green belt that is often flooded during the rainy season were put on hold after a public outcry against the project.
The state Ministry of Environment and the New Towns Development Authority visited the site, arrested some of the workers and described the estate, which the promoters named The Plush, as illegal.
PUNCH Metro, however, gathered on Wednesday, that the government might have bowed to pressure from some members of the state House Assembly and secretly approved the controversial project.
It was gathered that the counsel for the promoters petitioned the state House of Assembly. The Chairman, House Committee on Lands, Adedamola Kasumu, and two other members, Temitope Adewale and Ganiyu Sanni, visited the site on Wednesday, December 18, 2019, to ascertain if it was a green belt.
The former acting General Manager, NTDA, Aderenle Oni, officials of other relevant government agencies and some members of the Gateway Zone Community Development Association as well as our correspondent were also on the ground during the inspection.
Oni had stated that the area was a wetland and that building an estate in the green belt would spell danger for the surrounding communities.
“If you look very well, you will see that this is a wetland; I am speaking from the preliminary investigation conducted and the CDA members can now testify, because the little work that has been done here has led to flooding that the residents have not experienced before,” he had said.
But Kasumu, while reacting to Oni’s statement, said, “You seem confident that you are talking from a position of truth and fact, and you are telling me that you cannot speak on behalf of the CDA, which means you are giving me two conflicting statements.”
Adewale had interjected, “We understand that this is a wetland, but if you look very carefully, you will understand that this location is downhill and this (Gateway Zone estate) is uphill; so, there can’t be upward flow of water, which means that runaway water will run down and when this place is filled, then you can now have high-level water, which can never flow back to the top. What is the position of the NTDA on all of these?”
Oni had responded, “The position is that so far, this particular area is purposely left to absorb storm water, the NTDA will not agree that it should be made use of.”
Sanni asked, “What do you know about this land? Is it for the family or reserved for storm water? Do you have recourse to the Ministry of Physical Planning?”
Oni responded, “After our preliminary investigation showed that this place is a canal, we wrote a letter to the Ministry of Physical Planning detailing our observation.”
The question and answer session went on for several minutes, but efforts by executive members of the Gateway Zone CDA to speak were rebuffed by the lawmakers.
However, government sources told our correspondent that the developers were being backed by some members of the Land Committee of the state House of Assembly and the acting Chairman of the NTDA, O.J Aboyeji, adding that the developers were poised to go ahead with the estate despite the environmental concerns raised by members of the public.
“The new NITDA chairman is quite afraid of the lawmakers and because of that, he is about to ignore all the expert opinions against the development of the estate in the green belt,” the source said, adding that a report prepared by the agency warned against the project.
The Chairman, Gateway Zone CDA, Bode Ojomu, said the action of the lawmakers during the inspection was premeditated, adding that the case was a judicial issue and not a legislative matter.
While urging Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu to intervene, he said the CDA was bent on rejecting any plan to use the estate as an access point to the site and the construction of an estate in the green belt.
Ojomu stated, “The House of Assembly members came with a premeditated agenda, because in the course of the inspection, they bullied the official of the government, the then NTDA acting GM, and accepted views that advanced their clandestine agenda despite Oni’s insistence that the proposed site for the Plush is a gorge.
“They even refused to allow any member of my executive to speak, and yet, we hosted them. We are not surprised that Oni has now been removed from office and posted to the Ministry of Works and Infrastructure, and his successor is now acting like he is not a professional.
“The purpose of government is to serve the interest of the people and the governor swore to an oath to be fair to all manners of men and women, whose cases shall be brought before him. The petition the counsel for The Plush promoters wrote to the House of Assembly was a malicious action against the CDA.
“But the matter is not a legislative matter; it is a judicial issue; so, it is not in the power of the House to adjudicate on the matter, yet, it went ahead to act out a premeditated script.
“I don’t know how the House of Assembly has become a deciding factor when the issue at stake is an executive function. We are not going to support the location of the estate in the gorge. The last time, the OPIC estate and Isheri-North were completely flooded to the point that people were sacked from their homes.
“If they develop the Plush and don’t use our access road, where will all the water from the drainage coming from the Agindigbi Industrial Estate area, the Otedola Bridge, Omole phases 1 and 2, Shangisha etc drop? What arrangement has the government made to to accommodate the water from the drainages to link to the Majidun River? So, when the water comes, what will happen?”
When contacted, Aboyeji denined taking sides and said he could not make further comments on the telephone.