Commissioner to Banire: Apologise for raising false demolition alarm
The Lagos State Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Abiola Anifowoshe, in this interview with says the state government did not do anything illegal by issuing a notice of contravention on a property owned by the mother of a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, Dr. Muiz Banire (SAN)
Is it true that the Lagos State Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development issued a notice to demolish Muiz Banire’s mother’s property at 24a Remi Fani-Kayode Street, GRA, Ikeja?
The Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development is saddled with the responsibility to grant, reject and accept development permits in Lagos State. All structures in Lagos State – their approval, eligibility and sustainability reside in this ministry. Do you know how many structures there are in Lagos? We have more than two million structures. How will I know which building belongs to who? How do I know that one building belongs to one person, and the other belongs to another? This particular property you mentioned, on that street, we served notices to 17 structures. On the buildings visited, nobody wrote on their wall, ‘This house belongs to my father’ or ‘This house belongs to my mother’. At the ministry, we carry out our duty without fear or favour with no motive to victimise anybody. Apart from that street, we served notices to other structures in some locations in Lagos; we did in Yaba, Ebute-Metta, Banana Island and Victoria Island.
It may interest you to know that the ministry has four types of notices: the first one is contravention, produce your development permit within a stipulated period of time. If you don’t, you’ll be served another notice. To clear the air on 24a Remi Fani-Kayode’s case was that after 48 hours, we said the owner of the building would get demolition notice (showed SUNDAY PUNCH a copy of the notice). If we don’t get a response on the initial notice, we’ll issue another notice. If we issue the demolition notice, it will subsist for a period of time; there will be a third notice if there’s no response. Again, there will be a fourth notice if there’s no response to the third notice. So, why is somebody making a noise? There is no particular individual who is our target in the exercise we’ve embarked on.
So, why did Banire claim that the notice he got was that his mother’s house would be demolished in 48 hours if the building permit wasn’t produced?
He is the only one that can answer that question.
Banire is a lawyer. Do you think it is possible that he will not understand the notice?
As you said, he is a lawyer; it depends on how he reads his own law. If you like, you can interpret it rightly; if you like, you can interpret it the way you want. I can only tell you what transpired in my ministry. I can’t speak for him. We have contravention notice, demolition notice, seal-off notice, and notice to quit. When you’re given the notice to quit, that’s the last notice you would get. We have not issued that. We have not issued a notice to quit or seal-off notice. I think he needs to apologise to the people he has misinformed.
Since when has this law being in existence?
The law has existed since 2010. We’ve been operating on the 2010 law passed by the Lagos State House of Assembly and since that year, the law has not changed. So, Banire is expected to know better; he was once a commissioner in this ministry. He was once a commissioner in this state. He knows how the Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development operates.
Some believe that your ministry and the Lagos State Government should know that the property belonged to Banire’s mother having served the state for many years and being a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress. Do you agree with that?
The property in question, I don’t know what it looks like. As I explained earlier, nobody wrote in front of their house, ‘Keep off! Muiz Banire’s house’; ‘Keep off! Mama Ambode’s house’; or ‘Mama Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s house’. Nothing like that is written anywhere. Where it is written, ‘Keep off! Military zone’, I go there. The military doesn’t belong to anybody. The only place I won’t go to is the military barracks because of the security. But if (let’s say the chief of staff) is erecting an illegal structure on a personal land in Lagos, I’ll go there. Yet, if in the barracks there is any building that is about to collapse, we’ll go there; it’s for their own good. If anything bad happens, what you’ll hear is, ‘Building collapses in Lagos’. Nobody knew the house in question belonged to Mama Muiz Banire. I don’t even know his mother. I’ve never seen Muiz Banire in my life. I’ve only heard his name. So, why should I single out his mother’s house?
You may not have anything against Banire or his mother but could it be that you acted on the prompting of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode?
What! You need to tender an apology for saying that. My governor is not that type of a person. Is he the one behind all the notices served the 17 houses on that street? In all the notices (again, he showed SUNDAY PUNCH all the notices) served, there was none addressed to anybody by name. Let me tell you, there are more important dignitaries who live on that street; they didn’t raise an eyebrow. In addition, people have been responding to the notices served. Why didn’t he (Banire) respond? Is it because he is a SAN (Senior Advocate of Nigeria)? Is it because he was once in government? Or, is it that he’s above the law? Mark you, the law is no respecter of anybody. The law is meant for human beings to be obeyed. Ambode doesn’t have the time for noise-making. The governor doesn’t even know where he (Banire) lives. Ambode doesn’t live in GRA Ikeja; he is too busy for this kind of thing.
What role did your ministry play in the Lagos State House of Assembly’s takeover of former Deputy Speaker Funmilayo Tejuoso’s property?
The property was taken over by the Lagos State House of Assembly, not by the Ministry of Physical Planning. I am part of the executive arm of the government. They make laws.
But your ministry carries out or executes the sanctions. Isn’t it?
Yes, we execute the laws. But the property was taken over by the House. The ministry didn’t take over any property.
How many notices have you served so far?
The ministry has served so many in the last three months. We intend to serve notices to all buildings in Lagos State. All you need to do if you receive such a notice is to respond accordingly; present the required documents. To be candid, the essence of this exercise is to know the number of structures we have in Lagos and to ensure proper documentation of these properties. These are legacies people will leave for their loved ones. I’ll urge everyone to get their development permit if they don’t have it. If you don’t, we’ll issue you a demolition notice; we are not saying that we would bring a bulldozer. This is a democracy, not a military regime. If you don’t have a permit, go to the nearest Lagos State’s town planning office in your area. They will tell you what to do. Punch