Former First Lady of Ogun State, Mrs Olufunke Daniel has tackled the state government over the demolition of her five-storey DATKEM plaza in Ijebu-Ode, describing the act as executive recklessness.
Mrs. Daniel stated this on Sunday in a release issued by her lawyer, Mr Adeyinka Kotote,SAN, of PAGE Law office and made available to newsmen in Abeokuta.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that agents of the Ogun government in the early hours of Sunday, demolished DATKEM plaza in Ijebu Ode, belonging to Mrs. Daniel.
The legal firm expressed shock that the state government ignored a court order served on its agents on Thursday, September 7, asking them to stop all actions on the building.
“This matter began when the Ogun State Planning and Development Authority agents entered the building premises on August 1 without any prior notice.
“Interestingly, a quit notice was only served on August 31 by the same Planning and Development Authority, asking the owner to vacate the premises within three days.
“However, DATKEM applied for unsealing and regularisation of the building on August 2 and paid the mandatory fee of N500,000 to the Ogun state government. We have evidence of this payment.
“We were shocked and astonished therefore that the Ogun state government ignored the ongoing legal process and went ahead to demolish the complex in the early hours of Sunday. We want to believe that the State Attorney General’s advice was ignored on this matter,” Kotote said.
“Our clients, as law-abiding citizens of Ogun state, will continue to seek redress in the courts. Even when our clients have suffered unimaginable and huge losses as a result of this illegal demolition, we will not relent in pursuing justice in the courts,” he said.
He added that he believed Gov. Dapo Abiodun of Ogun was not informed of this illegality.
“But if he was informed and still decided to use the instrument of the state against our clients, it is nothing but executive recklessness. But we will continue to fight for justice and ensure that our clients get justice,” the release said.
In its reaction, the Ogun government said that DATKEM Plaza, Ijebu-Ode, was an illegal structure which contravened Ogun Physical Planning laws.
The state government, in a statement signed by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development, Olayiwola Abiodun, said the structure violated the building codes of the state with numerous defects.
Abiodun explained that several efforts made by the state government to halt further development on the site were ignored by the developers.
He said government officials requested the structural engineer in charge of the building to avail the state with the structural equilibrium of the building, a request that was ignored.
He recalled the various incidences of building disasters across the country, adding that the state government would not fold its arm and allow such occurrence.
According to the permanent secretary, what the government did in partially pulling down the defective building was to be proactive.
Abiodun challenged the owners of the structure to produce evidence of government approval in their possession.
He said for a commercial building of that status, there must be parking space to accommodate vehicular traffic within and outside the facility for workers and visitors.
“The provision of the law is that 45 to 50 per cent of available land is for construction as a buildable area. The building lacked stage certification, which is usually issued at every stage of construction.
“Owners were served the necessary notices, including abatement, contravention, stop work and demolition between May and October 2022, which were ignored.
“DATKEM Enterprises Limited submitted application for an office building, located along Ibadan Road, Ijebu Ode, in 2009 with registration number CB/05/299/2009.
The proposal was for five (5) floors with airspace of 3 metres at the right, 5 metres at the left, 5 metres at the rear and a setback of 32.5516 metres to the middle of Ijebu Ode/Ibadan road, Ijebu-Ode.
“The Zonal Town Planning Office observed during routine monitoring that the construction did not conform with the plan granted as there was a deviation from the airspaces and setback.
“In addition, the building had been modified and enlarged with an additional storey building at the back thereby becoming over density.
“In view of the above, a contravention notice with Serial No. 0106983 was served on 24th May, 2022. Stop Work Order with Serial No. 000623 was served on May 24, 2022.
“Another Stop Work Order with Serial No. 001065 was served on July 22, 2022, when the first notice was ignored. Demolition Notice with Serial No. 0007549 was served on October 11, 2022,” he said.
The statement also indicated that despite all these notices, the developer was recalcitrant and continued with the construction work.
“This prompted the re-sealing of the site on August 1, 2023. But the sealing did not stop the developer from further construction as work continued on the site.
“However, the developer wrote an appeal for unsealing, which was considered so as to evacuate the belongings in the premises. Thereafter, quit notice with Serial No. 0030750 was served on August 31, 2023.
“In view of the fact that the developer had remained recalcitrant, the Zonal Town Planning Office’s recommendation for the demolition of the office building was upheld,” he added.
Abiodun reiterated state government’s commitment to ensure the safety of its citizens, adding that any defective building in any part of the state would be demolished to safeguard the lives of the people.