BY BRIGHT JACOB
A former Governor of Ogun State and Senator representing Ogun East, Gbenga Daniel, kicked on Sunday as he described the demolition of his wife’s property in Ijebu Ode, by the Ogun government as an act of executive recklessness, lawlessness and irresponsibility.
Daniel stated this on Sunday, while reacting to the demolition of DATKEM Plaza, located at Folagbade Street, Ijebu Ode, through a release issued by his lawyer, Adeyinka Kotote (SAN) of P.A.G.E Law office and made available to journalists in Abeokuta.
Agents of the Ogun State government in the early hours of Sunday demolished DATKEM plaza in Ijebu Ode belonging to a former first lady of the state, Olufunke Daniel.
According to the release, the legal firm expressed shock and miffed that the state government ignored court papers 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 sealed the building 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.
“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.
“However, we were shocked and astonished 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 the State Attorney General’s advice was ignored on this matter.
“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 Governor Dapo Abiodun was not informed of the illegality.
“But if he was informed and still decided to use the instruments 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,” the release stated.
In its reaction to the development, the State government said DATKEM Plaza is an illegal structure that has no approved plan, saying that the structure contravened the state’s physical planning laws.
The government, in a statement signed by 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 said several efforts made by the 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 assess the state of the structural equilibrium of the building, but he ignored the request.
The statement recalled the various incidents of building disasters across the country, adding that the State government will not fold its arm and allow any of such occurrences.
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 for 45 to 50 per cent of available land for construction as a buildable area.
The Permanent Secretary added that the building lacked stage certification, which is usually issued at every stage of construction.
He said that owners were served the necessary notices, including abatement, contravention, stop work and demolition between May and October 2022, which were all ignored.
According to the statement, DATKEM Enterprises Limited submitted an 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, 5m at the left, 5metres 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 on site did not conform to 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, the following actions were taken: “Contravention Notice with Serial No. 0106983 was served on 24th May 2022.
“Stop Work Order with Serial No. 000623 was served on 24th May 2022.
“Another Stop Work Order with Serial No. 001065 was served on 22nd July 2022 when the first notice was ignored.
“Demolition Notice with Serial No. 0007549 was served on 11th October 2022.
Notice to seal with Serial No. 000815 was served on 4th October 2022.
The statement noted further that despite all these notices, the developer was recalcitrant and continued with the construction work.
“This prompted the re-sealing of the site on 1st August, 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 31st August, 2023.
“In view of the above, since the developer had remained recalcitrant, the Zonal Town Planning Office’s recommendation for the demolition of the office building was upheld,” the statement added.
The state government reiterated its avowed commitment to ensure the safety of its citizens, adding that any defective buildings in any part of the state will be demolished to safeguard the lives of the people.