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Scrap Lagos Ministries of Physical Planning and Urban Development, Lands, journalist tells Sanwo-Olu

With the recent collapse of a 21-storey building under construction on Gerrard Road, Ikoyi-Lagos, vis-a-vis the blame game, a seasoned journalist, Bamidele Ogunwusi, has advised the Lagos State Governor to scrap the Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development and Ministry of Lands.

Ogunwusi gave this advice in an open letter to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on his Facebook page, considering the level of corruption and decadence in the ministries.

It was reported that Gbolahan Oki, General Manager, Lagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA), who was later suspended indefinitely by Sanwo-Olu, had said the government approved 15 floors for the 21-storey building, but this was contradicted by Lagos Deputy Governor, Obafemi Hamzat.

Ogunwusi said as a property correspondent between 2001 and 2009, he was close to these two ministries and some of its leadership and had seen how land and building approvals were conducted first hand.

“I am not surprised that the collapsed building in Ikoyi got approval to build 15 floors but instead went ahead to build 21 floors.

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“Those guys at Lagos State Ministry of Physical Planning can approve anything if the money is right.

“Sometimes in 2003, a retired federal civil servant who thought he bought a land in Magodo had his document traced to a portion of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway close to Magodo. The man ended up in the hospital after the “trace” for many months.

“I have also seen how building approvals for private use were changed with the connivance of physical planning guys (including women) to commercial. The difference in the approval not paid to the government.

“I also remember how a 90 year old woman came to our office at The News/PMNews on Acme Road to complain to Mr Babafemi Ojudu how her land (two plots she bought for N2,000) at Magodo, which she bought from the Ashade family in 1972, was taken over by the Lagos State Government without compensation.

“She was shocked to see that the land, as at 2003, already has houses built on them by another owner who bought it from the Lagos State government.

“I spoke with one of the top officials on the matter and he told me pointblank, “Bamidele, Mama’s land is gone”.

“He claimed that there was an advertisement in Sketch Newspapers in 1978 calling on owners of land in Shangisha and Magodo to come forward for compensation. The revelation Mama described as false.

“Mama then asked the Lands Bureau and the Scheme Officer in charge of Magodo to present a copy of the advertisement but nothing was presented.

“Being a good man and also due to the fact that I came from a friendly media company, he said he will do something about it after he admitted “error” from the guys. He promised that, maybe, they may allocate land in the Lagos State scheme in Alagbado to Mama.

“I have several tales of deliberate negligence of duty on the part of civil servants in those two ministries for the purpose of perpetrating their illicit activities.

“Many more of building collapse will still happen in Lagos State if urgent steps are not taken by the government to look into the activities of the individuals responsible for making things happen in those critical ministries”, Ogunwusi said.

He believes that the only solution is for the governor to either scrap the two ministries or carry out a total overhaul.

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