Ijora Badia… Amnesty International indicts Lagos govt, World Bank over compensation of evictees

By Tope Templer Olaiya,
Assistant Lagos City Editor
AN eighty-page report recently released by Amnesty International has accused the Lagos State government of violation of human right in the demolition of over 200 structures and displacement of over 2,000 people in Ijora Badia.
The Amnesty International office last week expressed disagreement with the compensation package approved for Lagos State by the World Bank for people forcibly evicted from the informal settlement. The body in a report titled: “At The Mercy Of Government,” said the World Bank wrongly endorsed a compensation process that was not consistent with international human rights standards or the bank’s own policy.
“It is an outrage that a community, left destitute by the actions of the Lagos State government, has been denied an effective remedy by the same government and that the World Bank has been complicit in this matter,” said Audrey Gaughran, Director of Global Issues at Amnesty International.
She added that Badia East was chosen to benefit from a World Bank-funded project, which aimed to increase access to basic services such as drainage, through investment in infrastructure. “However, the demolition of at least 266 structures that served as homes and businesses took place without genuine consultation or adequate and reasonable notice and with no remedy for the loss suffered.

Badia 1“In Badia East, none of the legal and procedural safeguards that are required under international human rights law and standards in relation to evictions was observed. There was no genuine consultation with the affected people to identify alternatives to eviction. The government failed to provide adequate notice, legal remedies, alternative housing for those unable to provide for themselves or compensation for the loss of property.
“After mounting pressure, the state government, in collaboration with the World Bank, agreed to develop and implement a retrospective Resettlement Action Plan (RAP) for the Badia East residents in line with the World Bank’s Policy on Involuntary Resettlement. However, both the content of the RAP and the process by which it was prepared contravened international human rights standards and World Bank policy.”
According to Gaughran, while the RAP was supposed to accommodate provision of options for adequate alternative housing or relocation to other sites; ensure that affected people were offered the support needed to restore their livelihoods and standard of living; ensure adequate compensation was given to those affected, instead only financial assistance of amounts unilaterally determined by the government and considered inadequate by affected people was offered.
Amnesty International is a global movement of more than three million supporters, members and activists in more than 150 countries, who campaign vigorously to end grave abuses of human rights around the world.
This latest report has called on the state government to act immediately to ensure all those forcibly evicted from Badia East are adequately compensated for their losses and those who cannot provide homes for themselves are provided with adequate alternative housing.
It also urges the World Bank to strengthen its safeguard policies to prevent the abuse of its funded projects and its policies to commit or facilitate human rights violations.

Badia 4Describing the Lagos State government’s compensation as “inadequate”, Amnesty International noted that the slum dwellers of Ijora-Badia, whose homes were bulldozed on February 23, 2013, did not get compensations commensurate to their losses. She, therefore, insisted that destitute victims of forced eviction must be adequately compensated.
Despite the state’s lofty dreams of making Lagos a mage city, the body had in the wake of the demolition last year, stated that about 75 per cent of Lagosians live in slums.
The body’s Nigerian researcher, Mr. Oluwatosin Popoola, had noted that government’s failure to respect the rights of Badia residents had resulted in hardship for most residents of the state, while forced evictions, aimed at bringing order to the chaotic and crowded metropolis which is home to about 15 million people, had cost around 9,000 people their homes or livelihoods in the last 18 months.
“The effects of February’s forced eviction have been devastating for the Badia East community, where dozens are still sleeping out in the open or under a nearby bridge exposed to rain, mosquitos and at risk of physical attack,” the report stated.
“The Lagos State government has violated the right to adequate housing of the residents of Badia East by failing to put in place any of the legal safeguards required under the international law, prior to evicting thousands of the residents. The demolition has devastating consequences on the lives of the evictees. This is one eviction too many, all in the name of development.
“The Nigerian government has failed the people of Badia by resettling them in the area from Oluwole, where they were in 1973 by the Federal Government without proper documentation. Oluwole area is now home to the National Theatre,” the report stated.

Badia 2While there has been no official response to the Amnesty report, Governor Babatunde Fashola had countered critics of his administration’s Badia eviction, saying that the government’s plan is to solve problems and ensure better living for residents.
“That is why I have committed to build 1,008 flats in Badia, to take people out of living on the refuse heap. That place has been there since I was a child and we have carried on as if nothing happened.
“The easiest thing to do is to take a bull-dozer and bulldoze a slum because governments don’t create slums, it is people who do. Our administration’s plan is to bulldoze away your difficult conditions by providing roads, drainages and primary healthcare centres.”
According to a community representative, “since February 23, the people have nowhere to stay, they sleep outside battling with mosquitoes, malaria and cholera. In the process, many have died, including a pregnant woman, who died few weeks ago.
“Now, our life, our pains and what we went through can never be paid except the roof that was taken over our heads. To make matters worse, we here there is even a reduction to N90,000 compensation from what we formerly agreed on. With that amount, you cannot rent a house in Lagos and pay for a year. Till date, 18 months after, we are yet to get anything from government, not even a relief material.”

Badia 3Badia East is part of the larger Badia community, which is one of nine settlements (slums) that were intended to benefit from the World Bank-funded Lagos Metropolitan Development and Governance Project (LMDGP). The objective of the US$200 million project was “to increase sustainable access to basic urban services through investments in critical infrastructure.
The infrastructure component of the project (estimated at US$160.89 million) included urban upgrading activities in “nine of the largest slums identified in 1995” in Lagos State, along with drainage and solid waste management projects.
Though the area of land from which people were forcibly evicted has been earmarked by the Lagos State Ministry of Housing for a housing development project, The LagosHOMS project did not form part of the activities under the LMDGP.
The state’s Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Ade Ipaye laid the blame on the doorsteps of the displaced citizens.
He said: “If anybody says no, I don’t want your assistance, I want proper compensation because my house was destroyed; if that person can show land title, he can show planning permit approved by the Ministry of Physical Planning through the planning office, such a person can make claim for compensation because you have acquired my property which I built legally. But for others, the fee they are rejecting is the financial assistance that government has approved.”

Fashola’s successor… Testing the water with debate on religion

By Tope Templer Olaiya, Assistant Lagos City Editor
The dress rehearsal for the battles ahead over who occupies Lagos State’s coveted governorship seat come May 29, 2015 is now in full swing.
So far, nothing has been spared by top and lowly rated performers to devote greater attention to details in the run-in to the gubernatorial election, and this includes non-verbal signs of serious and media-hyped aspirants like the nuances of facial expressions and body language, political and social affiliations, social media ratings, attendance at public functions, and visibility in mainstream media.
For the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), the choice of a party flag bearer has been benchmarked on one score: Ability of aspirants to trace their genealogy to Lagos East senatorial district.
This zoning arrangement, which is alien to the APC or the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), is a deft move by party leaders to take the governorship round the three senatorial districts. Lagos West have had it for two terms of eight years with APC national leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu from 1999 to 2007 before the baton was handed over to the incumbent governor, Babatunde Fashola, from Lagos Central, who is on the last lap of his eight years in office.
The zoning clause may not count much for some aspirants in the APC, who only need some high-profile endorsements to validate their claims of hailing from any of the three major strongholds in Lagos East – Ikorodu, Ibeju-Lekki, or Epe.

RelFurthermore, it is not a strange phenomenon for politicians in the state to cross-carpet from one senatorial district to the other without qualms.

For instance, Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji is currently representing Lagos West after his first term in the same capacity (office) representing Lagos East from 2007 to 2011.

But of great concern to Lagosians in the ongoing scheming and game of wits is the faint drumbeat from political gladiators, which is being given expression through religious ‘politricking’. It is the agitation for a Christian governor in 2015.

Waiting in the wings to benefit from this crusade (although not of his own making or that of his benefactor, who is a Moslem) is the state’s former Accountant-General, Mr. Akinwumi Ambode, whose ‘dark horse’ entry into the race for Fashola’s successor got a massive lift with the recent endorsement by the Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu.

This endorsement, which was viewed as too early by some political watchers, has elicited criticisms, which could end up as a distraction to the Ambode project.

However, Fashola unsurprisingly threw jabs at promoters of religious consideration for governorship campaign when he condemned the demand by some groups in the state that a Christian should be his successor in 2015, saying: “Do they really believe in God? It is only God that can insist.”

Ambode (middle) discussing with close associates

Ambode (middle) discussing with close associates

It is believed that Fashola expressed this sentiment while declaring open an inter-faith conference in Lagos, with the theme: ‘Peace, Religious Harmony and Good Governance: Issues and Challenges,’ because of his perceived leanings towards one of the aspirants and his Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Obafemi Kadiri Hamzat, a fellow Moslem.

According to Fashola: “People have said that they want one particular governor and I have asked myself two questions – the people who said that they want one particular governor or that there must be this other particular governor, are they still conscious that it is an election where a choice has to be made? If there are two democrats, they should expect that citizens must have a say in who is sworn-in as the governor of their state. Secondly, can you insist that you will be alive in the next one hour?”

The governor, who insisted that religion should not used to determine his successor, added: “Good governance means different things to people. For the majority, good governance is just food, the ability to get a job and provision of social amenities. For those people, the faith of the governor is never their problem.”

Currently, several Lagosians, aspirants inclusive, have made religion an issue in a cosmopolitan and pluralistic state like Lagos. Prominent among them is Senator Ganiyu Solomon, representing Lagos West at the National Assembly. For him, religion has never been an issue in Lagos politics and should be kept out of it.

“It is a very emotional and sensitive issue in view of what is going on in the country today. In this particular part of the country, we don’t discuss religion when it comes to governance. This is the first time some people are bringing it up and I can tell you that they are bringing it up because of their own selfish interests. I don’t want to go further,” he said.

Governor Fashola

Governor Fashola

An APC chieftain, Alhaji Ganiyu Oseni, while describing the attempts to infuse religion into politics as political shenanigans, tricks and manipulations said: “There is a clear cut difference between the church and the state. Can anybody go to Abia, Imo, Anambra, Rivers, Akwa Ibom or Cross River and say they want a Muslim candidate?

“Democracy is a government of the people by the people for the people. You can’t go to Zamfara, Katsina, Kano and Jigawa states and say you must have a Christian governor. I am very disturbed that people are bringing religion into politics. We may know the beginning of such issues, but nobody knows the end.

“Deep down in me, I don’t believe in imposition. The choice must be by the people. Lagos State is not a state of a particular religion, we have Muslims, Christians and other religious adherents in large number, but all we need is good leadership that will deliver dividends of democracy to the people.”

A Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) stalwart, who is also eyeing his party’s governorship ticket, said the issue of religion is a weapon that aspirants, who, on their own, cannot win election, are employing to gain advantage that they don’t deserve. He declared: “If you examine all the aspirants, who are using religion today, none of them has the political weight to make any meaningful impact on their own. Is it Ambode with no political relevance or Jimi Agbaje, who doesn’t know which party to join less than eight months to the general elections? The beauty of Lagos is its religious neutrality and it is in our common interest to protect that.”

LAGOS HOUSE: Front view of the Governor's Office, Alausa

LAGOS HOUSE: Front view of the Governor’s Office, Alausa

To sample people’s opinions on the matter, The Guardian took the debate to the streets of Lagos and the following was the response:

The time is ripe for a Christian governor

– Akinnibi Damilola Shina

Religion would influence the next election because it has suddenly come to the notice of everybody that majority of those in the present cabinet in the state are Muslims. Sensitization is ongoing about this and we Christians are ready to ensure we determine our fate.

The media should focus more on serious issues

– Idris Olakunle Bello

I am perturbed and disappointed that the press failed to address key issues. Growth and development of the state should be greater imperatives than question of religion. The press should stop misleading the electorate. We are wiser than the falsity of the pen.

It is politically wise for parties to pick a Christian candidate

– Olawale Oladejo

Although religion shouldn’t be a yardstick to determine who governs, but many people are clamouring for a Christian governor and to win public sentiment any serious minded political party will choose a Christian candidate and with such scenario, I believe religion will influence the choice of the next governor.

Lagos is a pluralistic state

– Akinyele Akinrujomu

Religion cannot and will not play any meaningful role. As a Christian, I know that the bulk of the people troubling Nigeria today profess to be Christians. Leadership is a calling, anybody that is called, chosen or elected should be allowed to lead and add value to governance. Lagos is a civilized and pluralistic state. Religion should not be allowed to cause division and disaffection in 2015.

We say no to godfathers

– Abdulhakeem Olanrewaju

We have both Christians and Muslims in government presently, what have they done? Nothing. Both adherents of the two religions in politics do not fear what their end will be. My opinion is that Godfatherism should be out of politics. Let us vote in a new party entirely that will govern not under the influence of some people. That’s all.

Religion will largely determine 2015 election

– Charles Iwenofu

Religion is something that can never be removed from politics of the under-developing nations, unlike the rest of the developed world. Religious forces will largely determine 2015 election, at least by 60 percent, while credibility of candidates will make up the remaining 40 percent.

Lagosians will vote for personality not religion

– Oshiobugie Ronald

Religion can’t play any significant role in Nigerian politics at the state level, though it has a way of influencing at the federal level. Lagosians vote personality and not on religious basis.

Religion should not be allowed to divide us

– Jamiu Abdullahi

My advice to Lagosians is that politics and politicians should not be allowed to divide us. There is hardly a family where you won’t find Christians and Muslims and they have coexisted peacefully.

Religion may end up breaking Nigeria

– Adetolu Abdulrazaq

That is the beginning of our problems in Nigeria. And if we don’t take religion out of it, we will end up breaking the country.

Those campaigning with religion are enemies of Lagos

– Asuni Ademola

Religion has never been part of Lagos politics. Those who are calling for religion are jokers and enemies of Lagos. Bringing religion into politics is a very dangerous thing.

Muslim governors are better

– Chuks Michael

Religion has nothing to do with good governance. Though I am a Christian but I see more development from most Muslim governors. I am not trying to prove others wrong but we Christians still act like unbelievers.

Religion should decide for equity sake

– Chiemeka Lloyd Agu

Yes, religion has to decide who becomes the next Lagos State governor because to the best of my knowledge, Lagos needs a Christian person as the next governor in 2015 for equity.

History will repeat itself

– Paul Yabugbe

It has happened before in Lagos when the late Michael Otedola of the NRC beat Dapo Sarumi of the SDP though SDP dominated the House of Assembly.

Religion will play a factor

– Adedoyin Adeleke Samuel

It would definitely; because that is just our mentality in Nigeria. If God says yes, no one can say no.

The game is played by the Muslims

– Iheanyi Wisdom

A Christian will hardly rule Lagos. That is the truth, just like a Muslim will never rule Abia State. Never.

Religion will play a big role

– Innocent Ani

Religion will play a big role come 2015 in Lagos. If APC wants to give the PDP a chance, let it field a Muslim candidate.

It does not determine success

– Sunmola Temitope Shogbesan

Whether it is a Christian or Muslim that rules, it doesn’t guarantee any success. Only God can lead us right. I pray God should give us the person that would have the interest of the masses at heart.

Religion should not matter

– Anthony Agbo Nath

Religion shouldn’t matter but the person who is capable of bringing development to the people. However, I have observed that Muslims can’t exist without being in power.

This debate is a distraction

– Akeem Faruq

The introduction of religion into Lagos politics is a wicked strategy to create an opportunity for a weakling to become governor. Lagosians have never been known to vote for a governor based on religion. I don’t believe religion can play any meaningful impact in the Lagos governorship elections.

Religion is a non-issue

– Banjo Julius

It should not but it may. For me religion is no longer an issue, but finding a leader who is more concerned about the people he leads.

The voters are now wiser

– Harrison Aduluwa

If the people’s wishes speak, I think Nigerians are getting wiser. But come to think of it, the Southwest never allowed such until Rauf’s unity school plan played up religion as a factor.

Rigging, not religion will decide 2015

– Nwagwu Kelechi

Religion won’t, but multiple taxation will. And just as they have been doing in the past, assassination and rigging would also decide the election.

Politics is a game where nothing is impossible

– Jephtah Omavueya

Politics in Nigeria is like football where nothing is impossible.

Frantic search for next Lagos driver

•  Will APC play the dark horse joker again?

By Tope Templer Olaiya,
Assistant Lagos City Editor

AS the drumbeat of the 2015 general elections reaches a crescendo, the race for the most coveted governorship seat in the country gets intense and fiercer. Curiously, the conspiracy of silence among the ruling party bigwigs is unnerving.
Various names as likely successor to Governor Babatunde Fashola have been thrown up but delay by the All Progressives Congress (APC) to switch on pre-election activities is causing many party stalwarts sleepless nights.
Among those nursing the ambition to be the next occupant of Lagos House, Alausa next year are Commissioner for Works, Obafemi Hamzat; former Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Supo Sasore; immediate past Commissioner for Finance, Tokunbo Abiru; his successor, Ayo Gbeleyi; and the Commissioner for Sports and Youth Development, Waheed Enitan Oshodi.
These are the shortlisted five of technocrats perceived to have the capacity to carry on the Fashola legacy, but against the possibility of facing the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Labour Party (LP), who will likely field politically experienced candidates, the APC is tinkering with its options.
The obvious options are two serving Senators, Ganiyu Solomon and Gbenga Ashafa, Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji, and former Commissioner for Environment, Dr. Muiz Banire.
WelcomePolitical watchers in the state are, however, second-guessing where the next governor would emerge from out of the three senatorial districts in the state.
The calculations are pretty straight: Lagos West have had it for two terms of eight years with Asiwaju Bola Tinubu from 1999 to 2007; Lagos Central followed with incumbent governor mounting the saddle; which then makes it politically expedient that Lagos East takes its turn from 2015.
This is why contenders from this zone are upbeat about their chances in the race to pick the party’s slot. But what may throw spanner in the works is the strong but subtle agitation by several political and interest groups for a Christian governor in 2015.
This, according to inside sources, is the reason for the party’s vacillation on the post-Fashola project, alongside APC’s fixation on pushing out the PDP from power at the centre. The religious dimension to the dramatis personae of Lagos 2015 project is a growing concern the party cannot wish away.
APC is already being touted as a Muslim party, a tag the national publicity secretary of the PDP, Chief Olisa Metuh, is latching on to, to allege that the party is planning to impose an Islamic agenda in the country like the Egypt Muslim Brotherhood.

Dr Kadiri Obafemi Hamzat

Dr Kadiri Obafemi Hamzat

The consequence of this agitation is that by the time the governorship slot goes to Lagos East, it should be a Christian ticket, if the party is thinking correctly.
“The Christian community is beginning to feel disenfranchised and there is a serious search for a Christian ticket from Lagos East, which will knock off the ambitions of many front-liners like Ashafa, Ikuforiji, Hamzat, GOS and Banire,” a party chieftain, who doesn’t want to be named, noted.
Until Senator Oluremi Tinubu last year openly debunked being in the running for Fashola’s seat, rumour mills had gone agog with the story that the penetrative campaign for a Christian governor may not be unconnected with the move to push Tinubu’s wife forward.
Close aides of the national leader say it was never the plan for her to run, as the move would have hit a brick wall since she is representing Lagos Central at the Senate, the same zone the incumbent governor is from.
“Even the Senate thing didn’t just happen like that. It took a lot of work for Asiwaju to agree to the ticket. You know how women have a way of getting what they want no matter how difficult. Asiwaju just succumbed.
“The lull in the build-up to who clinches the party ticket is leaving everyone guessing who Asiwaju is going to throw up again like he did in 2007 with Fashola. All I can say is that there are lots of candidates waiting to get into the ring. They are only studying the situation before declaring their interest.”
Members of the Tinubu inner caucus revealed to The Guardian that after the five names of possible successors drawn up by Fashola leaked to the public last year, Tinubu drew up his own list of technocrats as a counter balance and arrived at the following: Dr. Leke Pitan, former Commissioner of Health; Prince Gbolahan Lawal, Commissioner of Agriculture and Cooperatives; and the immediate past Accountant-General of the state, Mr. Akin Ambode.

Dr. Leke Pitan

Dr. Leke Pitan

Tokunbo Abiru, who was recently appointed an Executive Director in First Bank, was dropped from consideration, as there are chances he could succeed the current managing director of the bank, Bisi Onasanya, and ensure the MD position remains in the southwest.
Religious consideration notwithstanding, there is a dark horse being primed in Fashola’s inner circle as a last minute joker should the leading contenders be forced to drop their bid and the surprise package, which is being discussed in hush tones, is the Chief of Staff to the governor, Mr. Mikhail Olanrewaju Babalola.
The list of strong contenders the party is presently working on has now been narrowed to two – Obafemi Hamzat and Leke Pitan, who are both from Epe, Lagos East Senatorial District. Of the two, Hamzat is well positioned because of the enormous resources at his disposal and volume of contracts that had passed through his ministry in the last three years.
Also, Hamzat’s father, Oba Olatunji Hamzat, is a well-known formidable grassroots mobilizer and colossus in Lagos politics. His father did Asiwaju a huge favour by stepping down in the running for Senate during the SDP days in 1992. Hamzat senior is also the founder of the Justice Forum, an influential group within the ranks of the Lagos APC.

Dr. Muiz Banire (left); in a handshake across the Niger with Dr. Leke Pitan (right) ... at a recent event

Dr. Muiz Banire (left); in a handshake across the Niger with Dr. Leke Pitan (right) … at a recent event

But the decision by Oba Hamzat to become a traditional ruler in Ogun State is working against his son, Obafemi. The indigeneship issue is what traditional rulers in Lagos are holding against party leaders and the major hurdle to cross is convincing Lagosians to vote an Ogun prince into office as governor.
Pitan is waiting in the wings to benefit from this contradiction. The template for the actualization of his ticket is the resurgence of groups and factions within the APC. Suddenly, groups, which were before now banned in the old Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), have been revved back to life to project and counter balance the interests of aspirants.
Dominant among these groups are Justice Forum, Mandate Group, and Mega Group. As it stands, Mandate Group leads with a 70 percent membership in the defunct ACN, followed by Justice Forum with 25 percent and Mega with five percent. Within the Mandate faction, Leke Pitan is the main element, and he is aided by his senatorial constituency.
But the man who holds the key in the Mandate Group is Asiwaju as he has the last say. For the other groups, Tinubu still has to convince its leaders on major decisions before some consensus are reached.

Akin Ambode

Akin Ambode

Gbolahan Lawal

Gbolahan Lawal

Those in the know in party politics of Lagos State attest to this fact and leaders of the other groups are seriously mobilizing members and shopping for new ones ahead of the APC’s national membership registration in all wards and local government areas of the country to enhance their bargaining power in the party.
This was how an influential party leader sums up the dicey chase to clinching the APC ticket: “Nothing is given yet. Anything can still happen. The agitations for Christian governor is strong but it depends on how much noise the Christians are able to make. The noise has died down, but if the noise persists, the leaders of the party would be forced to rethink on their position. It may then switch from Hamzat to Pitan or Ambode. For now, Hamzat is on the frontline.”

Terror under the flyover…

• Danger still lurks for passers-by at Clifford Orji’s Apakun kitchen

By Abdulwaheed Usamah

BARELY a decade and half since the departure of the reported cannibal, Clifford Orji, from the vast expanse of land in the Isolo area, beneath the Apakun and Toyota Bus Stop flyover that connects Airport Road, heinous crimes still abound in the place.

  Just at the same spot where notorious Orji, who reportedly died in prison, was caught with remains of human parts, leftovers from his previous meals, dangers have been continuously lurking passersby at dusk.

  Since that celebrated incidence, several crimes are still being perpetuated under the flyover as passersby tell tales of woes especially from dusk, lamenting that even Lagos State Government’s effort to beautify the vast space with ornamental plants, flowers and lawns has not rid the place of bad encounters.

  When The Guardian visited the spot based on several victims’ complaints recently, it learnt that just the previous night a lady in her early 30s trying to make her way to the other side of the bridge was raped by some unidentified men perpetuating crime in and around the place.

  “I heard noise in the garden and I decided to trace the direction where the noise had been emanating from because I was high but normal to move about, and on getting there, I saw the lady frailly-looking on the ground, and realised she had just been raped”, one Mr. Emmanuel told The Guardian.

  Meanwhile, it was not until in recent times that a different kind of danger began to lurk around the area.

 Although this time, while nobody was reported kidnapped or another Clifford discovered, armed robbers and rapists have now turned the area into such a favourite hunting ground that it must now rank as one of the darkest spots in the Lagos metropolis.

ImageThe bridge

Tales of the horror that Lagosians have experienced in the area abound.

  A gardener, Kelvin John, who mans a garden under the bridge, told The Guardian that the rate of crimes at the spot is worst and that even his brother, who had come on a visit from Ghana, was robbed by some men in the area.

  He said the robbery lasted for several hours, alleging that it was in full glare of police officers from a nearby station.

   According to Kelvin: “My brother was beaten black and blue before the hoodlums made away with his money and other personal belongings and vanished into thin air. Once it is dark, the whole under-bridge becomes quite unsafe for anybody who walks around the area.”

   A block manufacturer working under the flyover, Akinjide Alao, testified to how people lose personal effects to unidentified men there on a daily basis if they mistakenly pass through the spot at dusk.

  He said robberies happen at night when most of the block-makers would had gone home, explaining that he and his workers normally get the bad news from security guards and a gardener who works on the other side of the road when they resume work in the morning.

ImageClifford Orji

“People have severally lodged complaints at the Airport Police Station, Ajao Estate and Oshodi,” he said.

 A woman who pleaded anonymity also told The Guardian that those who commit crime in the place do not reside in the neighbourhood but come from other places to rob there.

 Efforts by The Guardian to speak with the Divisional Police Officer at the Airport Police Station as well as the management of the garden under the bridge on the issue proved abortive.

Ogombo, amid highbrow Lekki-Epe, longs for road development

By Tope Templer Olaiya, Assistant Lagos City Editor

FOR the residents of Ogombo community in Eti-Osa East Local Council Development Area (LCDA) of Lagos State, it is time the village shed its toga of primitive settlement and caught up with its neighbours in the Lekki-Ajah corridor, which includes Awoyaya, Sangotedo, Ibeju-Lekki, Okun-Ajah and Ajah and others.

   With inhabitants predominantly fishermen and farmers, Ogombo, which is estimated to have a landmass of over 2,000 hectares, is daily receiving influx of settlers from other parts of Lagos.

   The prospects of this relatively unpopular community look bright as the ruling families are in possession of a global Certificate-of-Occupancy (C-of-O) covering 550.11 hectares, which is more than Lagos Island. Residents claim that Ogombo is the largest community in the whole of Eti-Osa.


There are many notable organisations in the neighbouring community among which is the Pan African University. Prominent corporate and individual citizens have acquired most of the plots in the adjacent areas and the community is close to the proposed site at Epe that had been mapped out for the Lagos airport and deep seaport. 

   Residents of the place, some of whom have built impressive mansions, cannot boast to their colleagues and friends that they are living in the highbrow Lekki-Ajah axis of Lagos.

   The reason is that, no matter the make of your vehicle, whether sedan or sports utility, you can’t drive it to your house in the area because of the appalling state of the roads.      The vehicles are parked at some distance away from their owners’ homes precisely at the community square, where development partially ends. After the cars are safely parked, their owners trudge through the sandy roads to their houses.


For those who do not know the community, the way to the place is through Abraham Adesanya Estate and the stretch of over five kilometres is well tarred, but this terminates at the Ogombo roundabout.

   To the dwellers in the community who are well over 6,000, the few months of the dry season are the best time of the year. Once it is rainy season, it gets worse, as the roads become nearly impassable.

   A concerned resident, who is the chief executive officer of the Institute of Credit Administration (ICA), Dr. Chris Onalo, said during the rainy season, everywhere is completely flooded.

   “You can’t pass through Ogombo without folding up your trousers to your knees or using rain boots. You wade through the water until you get to where you park your car. To show you how terrible the situation is, even in this dry season, we are still using machine to drain water from the roads.

   “The whole of this area is waterlogged and this problem is beyond what community efforts can solve. We need a proper drainage system to eject water to the lagoon, apart from inner-city roads that will link the communities and reduce congestion of the Lekki-Epe Expressway,” he said.


 It is not all bad news in the area, as Onalo gives thumbs up to the security in Ogombo. “This place is very safe. You can keep your car anywhere and nothing would happen to it. Initially, when we came here, we were scared that typical of Lagos, they would vandalize your car or even steal it, but nothing of such has ever happened.

   Just a few people who bought lands close to the roundabout have the luxury of driving into their homes, for the majority of residents, the roads are not motorable and the cars are always safe where it is parked.

   “However, from time to time, there are pockets of incidents of petty stealing, but the security is marshaled by members of the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC). We also have a police divisional post in the area.”

   A community leader and the Supervisor for Works in the Eti-Osa East LCDA, Mr. Samad Oseni Ogunbo, told The Guardian that as a community, they have been championing for the construction of a senior secondary school for Ogombo. 

   “What we have now is a community school that terminates at Junior Secondary School Three (JSS3). They will then be transferred to Olomu, which is in Ajah and it is a huge risk, especially now that the Lekki-Epe road has been expanded.

   “We record accidents daily on the road and school children are usually the victims. It was the same situation that led to the death of six pupils at Ikota recently. So, if our children can complete their secondary education here, it will reduce the influx of people going to the expressway.

   “In addition, a lot of traditional activities take place in many of these communities, which involve ritual killings and the most vulnerable people used for such acts are school children. We don’t want them to be exposed to this ugly culture, that is why we are appealing to government to come to our rescue.”

   Ogunbo explained that there are three existing roads that need critical attention – the Okun Ajah-Ogombo road, Ogombo-Okun Mokun road and the most important, Ogombo-Sangotedo road.

   “There is no need for someone going to Epe, Eleko and environs to get to Ajah when you can link the Lekki-Epe expressway from Sangotedo. The same thing applies to those coming from Epe to this area, there is no need returning to Ajah and Abraham Adesanya before getting here.

   “Once the road infrastructure is in place, there would be numerous development in this area and this would also benefit over 20 road settlement villages around us. On our part as a council, we have presented this to the state government and the reaction we get is some experts coming around to take pictures and measurement, but what we want is action.”

Power not for sale, NERC warns Lagos govt

• Our IPPs only power govt utilities, streetlights, says Commissioner 

By Tope Templer Olaiya and Emeka Anuforo

LAST week’s commissioning of the 10.4 megawatts Alausa Independent Power Project (IPP), built at a cost of N3.2 billion has brought to three the number of IPPs operational in Lagos State.

An earlier commissioned 10MW on the island currently powers the general hospitals, Lagos High Courts, the State House, City Hall, Island Club, e-learning centre, some schools, churches and mosques on the island and so many public utilities; same for the 12.5MW sited in Akute, a border town in Ogun State.

Over 60 buildings and 4,000 offices at the state secretariat have been plugged into the Alausa IPP, which is a joint venture between the state government and Oando Gas and Power.

With these developments, as much as 130 heavy-duty generating sets, between the range of 30KVA and 50KVA, have been rendered redundant even as the drone of generators has become history in Alausa.

According to the Senior Special Adviser to the Governor on Power, Dr. Fouad Animashaun, two other power plants would be completed next year. They are the 8.8MW Mainland Power Plant that will serve Ikeja GRA, Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Lagos Police Command, Ikeja High Court and Ikeja GRA. The second IPP, a 6MW gas project at Lekki will serve Victoria Island/Lekki Phase 1 waterworks, streetlights and other amenities in that axis.

The newly commissioned Alausa Power Plant, Ikeja

The newly commissioned Alausa Power Plant, Ikeja

According to the projection of the state government, with the introduction of energy saving bulbs in Alausa, the state would save N2.8 million monthly on its energy spending.

Governor Babatunde Fashola at the unveiling of the plants last week, said government had audited 1,300 buildings, offices and restaurants and discovered that there were about 17,000 generators in those places, which had resulted in many residents paying four times more through the generation of their own power alongside paying for unreliable supply from the national grid.

He said: “In Magodo, the whole estate is spending N8 million on diesel daily, yet it is connected to the national grid, but with IPP in place, they will now spend a little over N2 million at N12.75k per kilowatts per hour. In Lekki, about N12 million is spent daily on public electricity, but with an IPP, only a little over N3 million would be paid as rate.”

Fashola urged residents to switch over to retrofitted bulbs, which according to him, saves eight times the amount of money that would have been expended on electricity using the regular bulbs and in the long run would put more money in the pocket of consumers.

However, Lagos, with its ambitious aim of providing uninterrupted power to its citizens, could well be working outside the framework of the Power Reform Act of the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), some observers say.

Amadi, NERC Chairman

Amadi, NERC Chairman


In line with the Electric Power Sector Reform Act (EPSR) 2005, Independent Power Producers who have the capacity to generate electricity on or off-grid are welcome and it was on this basis that the Lagos State government applied and got license to build and operate the Alausa Power Plant.

According to the chairman of NERC, Dr. Sam Amadi, the sale of generation and distribution firms of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) has not ditched other Independent Power Plant (IPP) projects.

“Lagos has a license to generate power for the use of some of its establishments. Every person, company or institution can be a captive generator or off-grid generator. There is no inconsistence between selling Ikeja or Eko DISCOs and Lagos State having a license for limited generation or distribution to its facilities,” Amadi said.

He explained that the dedicated license issued to Lagos State for the Alausa Power Plant restricts its distribution to state facilities within Alausa and environs.

The Guardian learnt, however, that Lagos State is not permitted to sell the power generated. They are also not permitted to use the existing distribution network of PHCN.

Section 62 of the Electric Power Sector Reform Act 2005 provides that any person intending to engage in the business of electricity generation, transmission, system operation, distribution or trading shall be required to obtain an operator’s license from the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission.

Tijani, Lagos State Commissioner of Energy and Mineral Resources

Tijani, Lagos State Commissioner of Energy and Mineral Resources


Lagos State Commissioner of Energy and Mineral Resources, Taofiq Ajibade Tijani, said “the Alausa plant is restricted to the secretariat, except for a few government facilities like the Surveyor General’s office, Lagos Television and Radio Lagos, Lagos Internal Revenue Service (LIRS) building, churches, mosques and all the streetlights around Alausa. There is a misconception about the governor’s comment on how residential areas like Magodo can generate their own power.

“What the governor said was that we have conducted energy audit to investigate what they are spending on PHCN and diesel and explain the issue of waste and energy conservation in the sense that if they decided to have an IPP for the estate, the gas they would be using may not be up to N2 million, which is also environmental friendly.

“We never said we would give power to anybody from our own IPP. In fact, we have some commercial buildings in Marina and Broad Street – UBA House, First Bank, etc – coming to ask us to give them power but we told them it’s not possible,” he explained.

Already, officials of NERC are due in Lagos soon to meet with government officials in charge of the plant and ensure that work within the ambits of the license issued them, as some residential buildings living close to some of the power installations are already enjoying free uninterrupted power supply to their homes.

Whispering Palms: Badagry’s Haven Fettered By Dreadful Roads

By Tope Templer Olaiya,
Assistant Lagos City Editor

Until lately, Lagosians were not known to spend festivals and public holidays indoors. Such days, which are far in between on the social calendar, are unique moments when families go out to experience fun on a full scale.
No wonder then the nation’s commercial capital has always been reputed for high-flying celebrations, which had earned it the sobriquet, Eko for show. On a day like today, Easter Sunday, residents are usually spoilt for choice with places to visit and be thoroughly pleasured.
But social re-engineering, security concerns, economic distress and horrid living conditions, which have all combined to make living in Lagos as stressful as living in a war zone, have made such choices limited to church events, the beach, Silverbird galleria, and the National Theatre Iganmu.
One of the few places that have over the years retained its tourism essence in spite of the infrastructural and social makeover of Lagos is the Whispering Palms Resort, a leisure and retreat resort for tourists and researchers at Badagry.
Tucked away on an expansive land overlooking the lagoon in the border town of Badagry, the resort is an ideal environment to escape from the city stress, unwind, relax and reflect.
Replete with the wonders of nature, such as a mini zoo, various sculptures, Oduduwa fountain, thatch huts, heritage museum of slavery and terraced lagoon front with concrete tables and seats, it is a unique spot for those who want to stand and stare, reflect and write or simply spend idle time for recreation purposefully.

Chairman of Whispering Palms, Prof. Deji Femi-Pearse, had in the 70s visited Benin Republic and Togo each months for three nights to unwind and reflect on his research data, particularly in Tropicana Hotel, Lome, a German resort by the Atlantic Ocean shore, where some of his best scientific papers were written and published in peer-reviewed journals.
Later, it became increasingly difficult to travel because of the growing nuisance on the road – police checkpoints, immigration, customs and plant quarantine, especially when the journey, which should normally take four hours took over 11 hours from Lagos to Lome.
This emboldened Femi-Pearse to establish a resort of sort on the Nigerian coast. He, at first, procured a piece of land at Ojo, near Alaba market, but in a few years, it was encircled by heavy human habitation, noise and garbage. He eventually acquired the present location in 1981, which has since grown to become a soar-away success.
On offer for the Easter Extravaganza is a Whispering Palms cultural festival where guests would be treated to a potpourri of local flavours featuring dances in Sato, Zangbeto, Igunuko, Egungun, Agbe, Akere, Gelede and a tortoise parade.
Easter Monday offers more with adult dance competition, children dance competition, yam pounding competition, tug of war and Whispering Palms marching band.

Sadly, these interesting scenes that could keep the mind fully engaged away from the burden of daily routine, would be sorely missed by a lot of would-be visitors, mainly because of the tortuous journey to the site.
On this, the resort’s receptionist, Miss Clement Margaret, reads her chairman’s mind succinctly: “Our major challenge is the bad road, which has affected the business adversely. It is hell getting here from central Lagos, especially with the traffic from Mile 2 to Agbara.
“No matter the money at one’s disposal, not everything here can be recreated in the bustling city of Lagos, particularly the serenity of the park that can only be found in a graveyard. Coming out from Agbara, the real journey begins as the visitor is confronted with bad roads from Aradagun through Iworo down here.”

Beautiful scenery of whispering palms on both sides of the road marred by dreadful roads

Beautiful scenery of whispering palms on both sides of the road marred by dreadful roads

IWORO is a sleepy community in Olorunda Local Council Development Area (LCDA) on the outskirts of Badagry. Despite its location, it has become a popular place and a Mecca of sort to picnickers due to the presence of Whispering Palms.
Despite the rich historical and cultural heritage that it represents, Iworo suffers from abject neglect and there is little to show that the community is under the management of Lagos State. Both the LCDA and the state government would be scored low going by the state of infrastructure available to the people.
Besides the sorry state of the road, there is no electricity, potable water and security in Iworo. The road is dilapidated, causing endless pain and agony to users. Market women, commercial bus drivers and private car owners plying the route are constantly groaning under stress and untold hardship caused by the degenerating roads.
A journey through the route is a risky venture, especially for visitors. Between Aradagun and Iworo, which shouldn’t take less than 10 minutes, motorists may sometimes spend up to two hours or more, as only a few motorists dare to navigate the area due to its swampy nature. Unfortunately, this dilapidated road is the link to Ajido, Epeme, Mogoh and other communities.
The Guardian gathered that during the rainy season, car owners ignore the area due to the damage caused to their vehicles. The few that dare ply the route charge exorbitant prices to the discomfort of residents.
Despite the self-help efforts of Whispering Palms’ management and the community by filling some of the roads with rough gravel as a palliative measure, it gets worse every year.
Hopes have, however, brightened of a lasting solution with the mobilization of Chinese construction company, CCECC to the area to commence rehabilitation works. The Guardian spotted CCECC already clearing a bush path to mount its onsite workstation, while earthmoving equipment have been moved to site.
The challenge of bad roads and epileptic power supply notwithstanding, the relationship of the resort owners with the host community has helped to grow a dream into stability. “The community is proud to have this resort in their village and our guest have never for once had problem with the villagers.
“We won’t have recorded this huge success without their cooperation because they can decide to upset the resort by posing as security threat and nuisance to our guests with their festivals, but such has never been the case,” Margaret noted.

The slave trade museum at Badagry

The slave trade museum at Badagry

LAST week, the ancient town was the centre of attraction when the Lagos Black Heritage Festival opened up the people of Badagry to the huge potential in tourism located in their doorsteps, which had long been ignored by the state government.
Apart from the misery of bad roads, construction of facilities that would facilitate patronage of tourists is still in limbo. From the world-class golf course along the Marine Beach to Vlekete Slave Market, where slaves were sold during the period of the infamous slave trade, to the Slave Tunnels and other landmark slave trade relics, Lagos is yet to deliver to enhance tourism.
Badagry has, therefore, remained a rustic community and is perhaps the poorest among its sister towns with heavy slave trade on the West Africa coast. But in spite of these setbacks, the locals are upbeat about the cultural resource at their disposal.

Alimosho… … The Dividends Of Fashola’s Democracy

By Tope Templer Olaiya, Assistant Lagos City Editor

A section of Ayobo-Ipaja road after a recent rainfall this year.

A section of Ayobo-Ipaja road after a recent rainfall this year.

IF Lagos State governor, Babatunde Fashola, spares some moments out of his busy schedule to read the letters and opinion pages of the dailies in the last few weeks, he would have been sufficiently embarrassed by the persistent grievous cries of residents of a certain section of the state.
The deafening trumpet being sounded by residents of Ejigbo, Ikotun, Ijegun, Idimu, Ipaja and Ayobo, is why the governor has decided to forsake millions of taxpayers in the Lagos West axis of the state known as Alimosho.
Governance in these areas is only felt by half-hearted attempts to remedy an apparent neglect with uncompleted and never-ending projects. The orchestrated infrastructural wonders of Fashola in Surulere, Ikeja, Victoria Island and elsewhere are lacking in the Isolo-Ejigbo-Ikotun axis where, for instance, the government has been building the about 10 kilometers road between Isheri Oshun and Jakande Estate for well over a decade.
Spokesman of the residents’ association, Chief Adisa Akiode, said residents of Ikotun, Ejigbo, Isheri-Oshun and Ijegun have shouted themselves hoarse over the state government’s inability to fix the road, which was started several years ago.
He said residents literally “pass through hell” to conduct their businesses in other parts of the state due to the poor condition of the road. He wondered what they had done to deserve such punishment even though they had always voted for the ruling party, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).
“For over six years now, we have not seen any government presence in form of construction of ordinary culverts in this area. The only respite we got recently was the rehabilitation of the ever-busy road, which leads to the NNPC depot from Jakande Gate, and that was after across many confrontations between the Federal Government and the contractor over non-release of funds,” Akiode said.
A bad spot on the Orilowo-Idimu road, Ejigbo.

A bad spot on the Orilowo-Idimu road, Ejigbo.

Another resident of the area, Uzodinma Nwaogbe, told The Guardian that in the build-up to the 2011 elections, Fashola pledged that the roads in the area would be taken seriously.
During the campaigns, the rains came down heavy and the people of Isheri-Oshun and its environs were told to be patient till after the rains as no road can endure rehabilitation during the period. Two years after, the waiting game still continues.
“There is no day vehicles do not break down on these roads, a situation that has necessitated private car owners to park their vehicles at home and go in public transport to take them to their destinations. Sometimes, they park their cars at Jakande Gate bus stop.
Many visitors plying this road complain of the effect of the thick dust, which worsen the people’s hardship and complicate their health problems but they are yet to see the worst of the road, which paralyzes movement during the rainy season. Residents were completely cut-off from the rest of the state within the period the flood lasted last year.”
The road is strategic and would be a huge relief to many Lagosians who ply it daily. The road, when completed, would help decongest traffic along Okota–Cele bus stop, as some would prefer to link Ago Palace Way, Mile 2 and Festac Town through Bucknor and Ijegun ends.

Stalemate at the Oke Afa-Ajao Estate link bridge.

Stalemate at the Oke Afa-Ajao Estate link bridge.

The locked gate denying access to link the bridge from Ejigbo to Isolo.

The locked gate denying access to link the bridge from Ejigbo to Isolo.

LAST week, the state government in a newspaper advertisement titled A New Lagos: Roads and Public Building, listed nine projects, none of which is from the densely populated Alimosho area. Projects flaunted in the new Lagos include Lekki-Ikoyi Cable Bridge, Ibeshe road in Ikorodu, Lagos-Badagry expressway and Marina Shoreline Reclamation in Badagry. Others are ongoing reconstruction of Tejuosho Market, Yaba; Langbasa Road, Eti-Osa; Ipakodo Jetty, Ikorodu; Isopakodowo Market, Oshodi; and Ago Palace Way, Okota.
Quoting from last week’s Backlash, a column in The Guardian on Sunday titled The Fashola Façade, “the connecting road between Orilowo-Ejigbo and Idimu is an ideal location for a Gulder Ultimate Search. The contractor in charge of the road uses shovels, head pans and diggers to work the side drainages.
“The Oke Afa-Ajao Estate link-bridge, intended to ease pressure on the Isolo-Ikotun Road, the sole traffic artery in that area, is taking forever to fix. In fact, much of the expansive Alimosho local government that gave the votes that put and returned Fashola to office is completely lost on the governor’s infrastructural radar.”
Work commenced on the Oke-Afa–Ajao Estate link bridge in 2011 and is already at an advanced stage, but it appears to have met a brick wall at the Ajao Estate end of the project, where contractors are at a loss about how to proceed with the demolition of structures on the Right-of-Way (RoW).
This stalemate may have informed the recent decision of the Christian community in Ejigbo Local Council Development Area (LCDA) to organize a prayer session for the completion of the project.
The Christian community under the platform of Christians Association of Nigeria (CAN), Ejigbo chapter, made prayer requests and also appealed to the governor to ensure the completion of the bridge despite protest by some residents of Ajao Estate to discontinue the project.

Another stalled project at the Jakande Estate-Isheri Oshun road

Another stalled project at the Jakande Estate-Isheri Oshun road

THE misery of residents and road users of Ayobo Ipaja road is as old as the fourth republic. They have also resorted to spiritual intervention after the avalanche of promises made by the former governor, Bola Tinubu and the incumbent failed to offer respite.
Fashola, who visited the area recently to flag off the polio immunization campaign, pleaded with residents of the area to be patient with the state governor, noting that issues, which are beyond what the construction firm, PLYCON Nigeria Limited, could handle had delayed its completion.
Some of the contending issues that had slowed down the project is the relocation of some Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) poles, gas and oil pipelines, which run across the area.
With the pain residents of Alimosho daily go through plying dilapidated major access roads, the state of the inner roads are better imagined than experienced in the Centre of Excellence.

Isolo General Hospital mortuary: At last, respite for residents

By Tope Templer Olaiya, Assistant Lagos City Editor
ISOLO General Hospital comfortably stands out among first-rate secondary health care facilities in Lagos State. From the main gate into the expansive compound, its ambience, which could be mistaken for a university teaching hospital, is inviting to any visitor.

The sour point of this beautiful hospital, however, is the deplorable condition of the mortuary, which the state government last week announced would be shut on Tuesday, March 26 in the interest of public health.

Long before the Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris, announced the closure of the mortuary, there had been complaints by residents of Isolo, who have for years endured a poignant odour oozing out of the premises of the General Hospital.

At first, the source of the odour was suspect due to the imposing dumpsite and hyacinth-covered Oke-Afa canal, located a few metres to the hospital, but this was given away by the whiff oozing from the building housing the morgue, which is isolated at a far corner in the hospital.

While management and staffers of the General Hospital have kept mum over the state of the mortuary, which had for years been an eyesore, citing a new rule in the state, which forbids officials from speaking with the press without official clearance, it has been a subdued relief for residents, who are already counting down to the March 26 deadline.
Uchendu Kingsley is happy that, at last, government has seen reason to prevent environmental pollution and health hazards to passers-by and Isolo residents by closing the facility.

“There have been several interventions to bring this to the notice of government and personally, I wrote an open letter to the governor in July 2011, which was published by the media on the deplorable state of the mortuary.”

“When the governor visited the hospital last year to commission the Maternal and Childcare Centre, the community leaders also brought the matter to the fore and he promised to redress the situation.

“We are, therefore, pleased with this decision of government though I don’t see any reason there can’t be a lasting solution to prevent the decomposing corpses from polluting the environment.

“Maintaining a mortuary is not rocket science, if the necessary equipment are in place,” he said.

A mortuary attendant, who did not want his name mentioned, told The Guardian that a new mortuary was under construction, which when completed, would be operated under a Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement.

“It would be under the care of a woman, who is at present managing the mortuary at Ikeja and at Mainland Hospital, IDH, Yaba.”

Explaining the reason for the nauseating smell of the mortuary, the attendant attributed the cause of the odour to abandoned corpses dumped at the mortuary. “Many of the bodies picked on the streets by policemen, especially armed robbers and victims of hit-and-run drivers are brought in here, sometimes in a decomposing state. We cannot, therefore, lump them together with bodies transferred from the hospital or kept here by the deceased relatives.”

Dr. Jide Idris, Lagos State Commissioner for Health

Dr. Jide Idris, Lagos State Commissioner for Health

In life and in death, there is hierarchy. So, at the general hospital, the priority is to attend to those whose corpse would be paid for, while the unclaimed bodies are lumped in the ante-room, which explains the odour that has got residents worried.

While preferential treatment is given to bodies duly registered and accounted for by relatives, unclaimed bodies are not adequately preserved by the hospital. Worse still, there is no use for them, as they cannot be torn open by medical students as cadavers, since it is not a teaching hospital.

A provision has already been made for unclaimed bodies at the Mainland General Hospital, Yaba. This was contained in the statement made by the Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris, who said the recently renovated mortuary has been designated a Social Responsibility Centre, which would receive and accommodate only some categories of bodies.

Available mortuaries in Lagos are Gbagada General Hospital, General Hospital Lagos, Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Lagos Island General Hospital, Ikorodu General Hospital, Epe General Hospital and a few private morgues.

With the current population of Lagos put at about 20.19 million, the number of available mortuaries is a far cry from what would be required in the emerging mega-city. When The Guardian visited the about-to-be-closed mortuary at Isolo, there were over 500 bodies yet to be claimed by relatives, while those categorized as abandoned had been hauled away in a van to Mainland General Hospital, Yaba.

An ambulance driver at the hospital, who had been rendered jobless by this latest directive, Mr. Michael Adekoya, said government should reduce the money charged by the hospitals for the use of the mortuary. He also wants private individuals to invest in building private morgues to break the monopoly of government in the business.

“By the grace of God, I am planning to establish a private facility in my hometown in Ijebu Ode, Ogun State because I love the job. It pays to care for the dead and it is a lucrative business abroad. Many of our countrymen who travel abroad go there to wash corpses, why should they be ashamed of doing it at home. There is nothing special about having private morgues; it is not as complex as building a refinery.”

“The money charged by Lagos State Government is too high. Their mortuaries collect as high as N45, 000 to N50, 000, with a daily sleeping allowance of N1,000. Last week, I took a corpse to Owerri. The man died at night and the next morning the body was on its way to Owerri. I was surprised that the mortuary there only collected N5,000 with a daily sleeping allowance of N200. No wonder, most people prefer to take their dead back home away from Lagos, where everything is expensive,” he said.

For Adekoya, he loves his job and he is not in it for the money. “My joy is offering assistance to the bereaved and the dead. We should learn to care for ourselves, whether dead or alive. And I am proud to do this in my country and not in a white man’s land.”

Lagosians’ Ordeal Putting Roof Over Their Heads

• How Landlords Exploit Ineffective Tenancy Law
Assistant Lagos-City Editor
Lag 1
It’s already 18 months since the Lagos State governor, Babatunde Fashola, signed the Tenancy Bill into law. However, to some Lagosians, the law has not made the required positive impact on tenants in the state. They told The Guardian in separate interviews that the law had not achieved its objective of alleviating their sufferings from landlords.
The law prohibited a landlord from demanding or receiving rents in excess of six months from a sitting tenant paying monthly and one year rent from a tenant paying yearly, irrespective of the nature of the tenancy held.
One area of contention is the restrictive application of the law. Apapa, Ikeja GRA, Ikoyi and Victoria Island are exempted from the application of this law. The rationale behind the exemption appears to be that tenants in these areas are predominantly corporate bodies and high net worth individuals. The assumption is that these categories of tenants are better able to define the terms of their tenancy with their respective landlords.
Mr. Yusuf Bolaji, a resident of Okota, said he was made to pay two years’ rent with high commissions to secure his new apartment. “Three of us were negotiating to rent the place; it would be stupid of me to offer to pay one year rent when the two others were ready to offer more,” he said.
“Some people were lucky to meet law-abiding landlords that accepted one year rent, but not all the landlords are complying with the law and it is frustrating securing a decent accommodation without dancing to the tune of the ‘almighty’ landlords.”
A prospective tenant in Surulere area, Femi Olayinka, also noted that the tenancy law has not made the much-needed impact. “I have been trying to settle down with my fiancée for months now, but this is being delayed due to my inability to secure an apartment. The landlords I have been meeting are not complying with the law and this is limiting my choice of where to stay,” he said.
In Agege, a prospective tenant simply named Okechukwu, was shown a two-bedroom flat, but after paying, he was given keys to a self-contained one-room apartment by the agent with the explanation that the two-bedroom flat had been taken.
“After three weeks of dragging the matter back and forth, I was advised even by the policemen, who I reported the case to, to take the available flat offered me or forfeit my money. I discovered that my money was trapped because the agent will refund some and withhold a certain amount, while about 15 percent of it was being demanded by the police for intervening in the matter,” he said.
The above scenario is the picture of what prospective tenants go through. But this is just a tip of the iceberg compared to what sitting tenants endure from some landlords for fear of eviction notice.
house 3
A man was recently given a quit notice because his landlord does not want a married man in his house. The young man travelled to his home state for Christmas and came back with a wife. After introducing her to his landlord, he received his congratulations accompanied with a verbal eviction notice.
The newly wedded sought the assistance of some elders in the neighbourhood before they were allowed access to their apartment, however, with a condition that they would vacate the house at the expiration of their rent later in the year.
In Itire area of Lagos, a landlady opened a bank account late last year and instructed each tenant to pay N5,000 monthly for electricity bill, which none of the tenants had set eyes on. When the tenants requested to see the current PHCN bill, the landlady responded with a quit notice and threats to disconnect them from power supply.
Sitting tenants in Lagos go through a lot to keep their tenancy and the situation is not better with the introduction of the tenancy law. Prospective tenants, in their desperation, accept all manners of conditions, some written and many others unwritten.
The fear of quit notice is enough for tenants to forgo a lot of things that ordinarily should be demanded for. Many ascribe the exploitation of tenants to the scarcity of accommodation, which makes demand to surpass supply.
Some landlords have devised a method around the provisions of the tenancy law. They have jacked up the rents of sitting tenants by over 50 percent to compensate for the six-month rent they are allowed to collect by law. They collect rent of a year and six months from prospective tenants but issue receipt for a year, or collect a year’s rent and three months into the tenancy, request a six-month rent.
house 1

A visit to the Citizens’ Mediation Centre, an arm of Lagos State Ministry of Justice, which handles landlords/tenants matters through mediation, did not produce any result. The director was unavailable at the centre at Motorways, Alausa. An information officer in the establishment ‘reminded’ The Guardian about the new rule in the state, which forbids officials from speaking with the press without clearance.
In a bid, however, to bring respite to affected Lagosians, the Landlord-Tenant Dispute Mediation Centre, Ojota, has promised to eradicate the problem of unlawful ejection and other forms of maltreatment of tenants by landlords and their agents in Lagos State.
The centre was established in 2008 by public-spirited lawyers for the purpose of promoting amicable settlement of tenancy disputes. In a chat with The Guardian, the national coordinator of the centre, Mr. Abali O. Abali, said the NGO is out to ensure both landlords and tenants abide by the contractual relationship between them.
According to him: “It is the practice by some landlords to secure a court injunction, using Jankara method to eject a tenant and recover their premises. Some tenants are very ignorant of court proceedings and usually don’t know how to act when confronted with such situations. This was why we came up with the idea of the NGO, basically to protect tenant’s rights. We also stand in for landlords when the situation arises.
“Some tenants would be given a seven-day quit notice when the proper six-months notice had not even be served. The centre has had to take up issues with lawyers, who indulge in such unethical practices. You can’t because of the money a landlord will give you as a lawyer and go ahead to carry out unlawful instruction without educating your clients.
Abali said there are also situations, which are so rampant, where a landlord sells a property without informing the tenants and the new property owner would simply issue the tenants notices to quit in days. “When we get such cases, we don’t waste time; we immediately file for an injunction, restraining the new landlord from taking possession until the six months stipulated by the law is observed,” he said.

Mr. Abali O. Abali, Coordinator of the Landlord-Tenant Dispute Mediation Centre, Ojota,

Mr. Abali O. Abali, Coordinator of the Landlord-Tenant Dispute Mediation Centre, Ojota,

Abali, however, countered the belief, held by many people that the law has been ineffective. “The fact that some landlords devise ways around the law shows that it is having an effect, even if psychological,” he said.
“Today, there is no landlord that will issue receipt for two years’ rent, even if he collected the money because he knows the receipt is an evidence against him that could land him in jail or pay a fine of N100,000. But the problem with that aspect of the law is that both the payer and receiver are guilty and liable to the same fine,” he said.
“The law is not being realistic because there is no way a tenant can prove that he paid an excessive rent or the landlord demanded excessive rent from him except he pays; so, he can have evidence. Otherwise, if it is just an oral allegation, it will be his words against the landlord’s.”
Abali’s suggestion, whenever the law would be amended, is for a provision to be made, stating that any landlord, who knowingly lets out his apartment to two or more tenants for the available space of one, should be asked to refund the money with interest, in addition to paying a fine.
“It will become easier to enforce, because right now, when tenants fall victim of this situation, they run to the police and wait until the police detain the landlord or agent and intervene to retrieve the money. There has to be an express provision in the law covering this situation, so that any victim can go to court and seek redress once he is denied possession of a property,” he said.