The Community Development Association (CDA) of the Gateway Zone Estate, Magodo, GRA Phase 1, Isheri, Lagos State, has renewed its claim of an alleged plot to convert a green belt in the area to a residential estate.
It appealed to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu to investigate the matter by setting up a non-partisan committee to review the case and save the lives and properties of residents in the area.
The CDA alleged that the New Towns Development Authority (NTDA), a property development company, traditional authorities and the state House of Assembly Committee on Land Matters were behind the plot.
It made the claims in a statement signed by CDA Chairman Oyebode Ojomo and Secretary Tony Ebinum.
The Nation learnt that the crisis has been on since last year.
It said the NTDA recently called a meeting with the Executive members of the CDA, but that “the meeting turned out to be a monologue of threats and intimidation to railroad the CDA into teaming up with the NTDA and its collaborators to consent to the environmental degradation of the green belt area despite the opposition of the estate and against the opinions of environmental experts in the private and public sectors. The green area is a vast gorge adjoining our estate.
“The reaction of our representatives at the meeting was that of shock and disdain that public officials whose brief include the protection of public interest could show such insensitivity to the genuine public outcry that greeted the initial expose of this sinister plot.
Several red flags have been raised at different platforms emphasising the imminent threats to human lives and property if the Lagos State Government permits the despoliation of the Green Belt Zone, which essentially and primarily is a flood plain.”
The statement also stated that at the meeting, the CDA Executives were shocked “when events at the meeting clearly showed that the NTDA had made a 360-degree turn from its previously sound position that an estate could not be sited on the green belt.”
It said it became obvious that the CDA was only invited to be commanded by the NTDA to do the bidding of the developer, the omo-onile (landgrabbers) and other affiliated interest groups.
“We were told that the House of Assembly had arrived at a resolution that the CDA must open its gates to these intruders to willfully turn the flood plain into a residential estate and therefore jeopardise the peaceful existence of residents of Magodo GRA Phase 1, Magodo GRA Phase 2, Omole Phase 2 and Olowora environs.
“The NTDA officials further stated that part of their recommendations was that an access road should be created for the settlement via Olowora if they insisted on building on the flood plain. The Omo-oniles rejected this recommendation and the House of Assembly members concurred with the Omo-oniles.
“It is a shameful dimension in the annals of our history as a people that all caution, expert opinions and environmental orders are about to be willfully thrown to the winds because of the desperation and rapacious greed of a few for commercial gains at the detriments of many lawful residents of government-approved estates in the environs.
“There are rumours that the House of Assembly Committee on Land Matters might have been compromised because it is very clear that they are bent on letting the Omo-oniles have their way in the face of the many dangers that this move portends. We begin to imagine if their loyalty it to individuals with pecuniary gains or the people they have sworn an oath to serve and protect,” it said.
The CDA explained its reasons for opposing the development of a residential estate in a gorge.
It said: “We are living witnesses to the awful incidents that happened in the neighbouring Isheri North in October 2019, where buildings collapsed at Orisha at the adjacent end of Magodo Village and lives were lost overnight.
“We cannot sit back, fold our arms, watch and allow similar incidents of more grievous dimension happen to us when we can fight to prevent it now. As it is said ‘prevention is better than cure’.
“These flood plains are designed to receive water, so as not to cause flooding in developed areas but sheer greed and avarice are at the centre stage propelling the landgrabbers to move into the plain with the intention to sell and develop private estates and in the process destroy the ecosystem and the peace of the area.
“We will not be tired of appealing to Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu to investigate this matter by setting up a non-partisan committee to review the case. The Ministry of Environment, Surveyor-General’s office, and the NTDA have, at different times, individually and collectively advised that the green belt area should be left unaltered and intact for its primary purpose as a flood plain, but the Lagos State House of Assembly Committee on Land Matters is insisting that the landgrabbers must have their way.”
However, the Lagos State House of Assembly Committee on Lands on Friday denied that it issued secret approval of land to anyone in the Magodo GRA Phase I.
Richard Kasunmu, Chairman, House Committee on Lands, at a press briefing held in the Assembly Complex, said the committee had been investigating the matter with all intent, integrity and never favouring any party in the dispute.
The Nation also learnt that officials from the Drainage Enforcement and Compliance Unit of the Lagos State Ministry of Environment recently visited the flood-prone green belt between the Magodo Phase 1 and Phase 2 housing schemes to serve a stop-work order on the owners of buildings under construction on the setback of the green belt.