By Samuel Edu
Forty houses out of 98 illegally built on government’s land designated for industrial purposes have been demolished by the Ondo State government.
The structures, majorly residential, situated behind automat along Akure/Owo expressway were said to have been encroached on by land grabbers.
The State government said the land had earlier been acquired by the western region and had since been designated as industrial area.
The Hope learnt that the representatives of government had earlier met with the affected landlords and occupants of the illegal buildings to intimate them of government’s intention to take possession of the lands.
The Commissioner, Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development, Mrs Lola Fagbemi said the demolition exercise was carried out in a bid to reclaim government’s property already in the possession of land grabbers, noting that government cannot continually fold its hands and watch its land taken over by unscrupulous elements.
“Sometimes ago, the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Infrastructure informed us that government lands designated as industrial areas have been grossly encroached upon.
“These tracts of land were acquired by the defunct Western Region government and was designated as industrial land for the use of economic, commercial and other industrial purposes.
“This place remained industrial area upon the creation of Ondo State on February 3, 1976 and this is one of the greatest immovable assets that we have as a state.
“Records at our disposal also showed that compensations were paid to the initial owners when the land was first acquired.
“We are using this medium to call on the people affected that this area is an industrial area and no residential building will be allowed there. It should as well be noted that government cannot in anyway be intimidated.”
Speaking on the legal procedures that have been followed before the demolition was carried out, Fagbemi said “we have been on this issue since 2016 and occupants have been served with several notices that the land is owned by the government.
“This has been done even when some of these houses were still at the foundation level but they all turned deaf ears.
“Let it also be on record that none of the houses built on this land has the required land documents to proof their ownership, no C of O and neither do they have land use permit. These are lands taken over by land grabbers.”
Speaking further on the urgency of the exercise, her counterpart from the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Infrastructure, Mr Raimi Aminu said the demolition was essential and urgent especially as the state awaits the commencement of the long anticipated Ondo Port.
Aminu said “before now, all the lands from Oyemekun, Irese down to ORSC, Automat, Shagari junction had been acquired for industrial purpose and as at then, the highway was not there.
“Now that Ondo state is getting ready for Port Ondo which we believe will come to limelight in the shortest possible time, that expansion must come to the headquarters.
“We have large expanse of land for industrial purposes but this land have been encroached on and this is why we have gone there to carry out the first phase of the demolition exercise.
“The government of Ondo is not one without pity, the pleas and cry for leniency made us soft pedal a little for the remaining occupants to pack their loads and pick a few things from the house because we are still coming back to demolish all the houses affected.”
It was gathered that 98 houses were marked for demolition out of which about 40 have already been demolished.
One of the affected landlords who does not want his name in print condemned the exercise, stressing that the government has not done well enough, saying they were not given enough time.
“They served us notice just about three days and today they are here to demolish our buildings.
“I do not know where I will start from. This is what I have spent my entire life earning on, this is quite unfair and unfortunate.”
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