Few weeks ago, members of Zumuratul Jamiu Mumin, ZJM raised concerns over alleged plans by the Federal Government to evacuate them from Islamic City – a settlement built on a six-acre land around Pakuro-Lotto axis area of Lagos/Ibadan expressway. Read it HERE
Responding to the allegations, in an exclusive interview with Daily Independent’s Rasheed Abubakar, the Project Supervisor, Engineer Adewale Adebote insisted that from inception, the plan has always been interchange, not flyovers.
He claimed that the community is sitting on government’s right of way, adding the demolition exercise is going to affect not only Islamic City, but other properties including the ones that belong to the Churches. Excerpts….:
Q. There have been allegations from the people of Islamic City over plan to illegally evacuate them from their settlement built on six acres of land. They insist that the agreement made from the inception was a flyover, not an interchange. They also argued that the interchange is being constructed for the benefits of Redeemer’s University. How would you react to all these allegations?
Engr. Adebote: I am speaking on behalf of the Federal Comptroller of Works, Lagos. I am the project supervisor in charge of the area. From the onset of the project, the interchange has been the plan. It has never been a flyover. That point, the Lotto axis you are referring to, has been an interchange. The right-hand side leads to Ogijo while the other side connects to a road going to Abeokuta. If it is just a flyover, it will mean that people from Ogijo only are to cross to the other side. But how do they make a turn to come to Lagos? How do they make a turn to go back to Ibadan if there are no close links? The interchange was there to cater for everyone, not only to serve the churches, it is to serve the community. And if you look at it, the population weighs a little to that place after you cross Ibafo, Mowe which already are fully developed.
In designing the road, there are lots of parameters the engineers and the federal government put in place to check what they are doing. So, having considered everything, they came up with the interchange. It is necessary. If a vehicle takes off from Lagos and is going to turn back, where will it turn? It has to get to Sagamu. If the people in that community need to use an articulated vehicle or a trailer to bring anything; once the trailer discharges, that means the trailer will have to turn on the alignment if there is no interchange. So, this is what necessitated the interchange; to serve the people. At no time did anybody influence that interchange. Nobody will dictate to the federal government. What they do is to consider the people, because the road is meant to serve the people and is without any fear or favor to one side.
Video: FG evacuating us from our land under pressure from 2 Christian groups | Watch >>>
Now, they said they have 6 acres. You know there are some things you have to put into consideration. Let’s talk about the Right of Way. When the government got that place in 1974, that place was a virgin road. It was supposed to be an inward road where nobody was living and nobody would be allowed to come into that road. The interchange was only in Sagamu. But because people have moved with the infrastructure, the government cannot close their eyes and say they are not human beings. That is why they have to bend backward and consider these people.
…still on the ‘right of way’
When the government got that land (referring to the land along the expressway) from the States (Lagos, Ogun, and Oyo), the centerline of the road to this side (using a pen to illustrate on the paper) is 47.2 metres and belongs to the federal government. It is also the same here (including the land occupied by Zumuratul Jamiu Mumin). In a layman language, 150ft. from the main road belongs to the federal government. Do you know how large that can be?
Q:…Is there an established law backing this claim?
Egnr. Adebote: It is an established law. It’s gazetted. It’s there that for any road that must be constructed, there must be Right of Way setbacks because of future expansions. Now, people have over time come to build here (where he referred to as right of way as illustrated in his diagram). When they are now sitting on the Right of Way; if this is your house, somebody has started to occupy it and say because you are not staying there, now you need your land back, what do you do? Is it not to collect it? That’s that.
Places of worship are mostly located on the road where people can see. This is the problem. People will park. They will cause traffic and accident. Commercial houses want to be facing the road out of overzealousness. The Right of Way has been demarcated before. They are supposed to leave a clear distance. There are some filling stations we have cut. Why are they not shouting? It’s because they know they are on the Right of Way. Go to Lagos/Otta, I’ve cut many places out. This is not being punitive. We want wider roads and roads that will be serviceable. What do we do? This is the Federal Government. It is not a tribal or religious thing.
Q: But the community said the interchange affects them only, except for some private property. How do you react to this?
Engr. Adebote: It is not only the Islamic City that is affected. There is a government installation – a big transformer, that was also affected. Will PHCN say they are being targeted? Do you know the amount of money that is going to cost? Now, we are talking of houses. Yes, people would feel like that. When they are saying this, I have told you how we locate things. There is a road coming from Ogijo; another is coming from Ogun State. Reasonably, what do you do? You want to cross it and there must be a place you make a u-turn. We followed the natural alignment. If you now fall within the government’s Right of Way, you won’t say the government should not use its Right of Way. Secondly, by my description, they did not place the interchange on somebody’s farm, it is from a road coming. If a road is about 5 metres and it’s taking only 2 vehicles and you are developing, will you stay with the 5 metres? You will definitely expand. It was not targeted at anybody. Nobody influenced anything. Along the line, some companies will also be affected.
Q: Are you saying it didn’t affect any of the two Churches?
Engr. Adebote: It affected them too. Let me ask you; Has the Lotto road that goes to Redeemed not been shut down for months?
Q: But the Community said it didn’t affect them. That’s why I am asking if this interchange affected any of the two Churches?
Engr. Adebote: Alright. The Lotto road that goes to Redeemed has been shut down for months because of the construction. They were the ones affected first. It is not targeted at anybody. It is affecting whoever is in that domain. So far you are within our Right of Way, whoever you are, even if it is Federal Government’s establishment, it will have to relocate. We have not removed anybody from their land. We only ask those who occupy the Right of Way to vacate.
People always find a way to justify things. There was one case about Redeemed. I replied the letter. An architect made a video, showing water running into their place. He said that we are wicked and Julius Berger was trying to chase Redeemed, that they diverted water. This road has been there before Redeemed came to that road. There is something we call natural outfall. If there is a cause for water to be flowing and you disrupt it, you call for a flood. Redeemed is guilty of this; they built fences. Now, when we do our work and the road is fixed, the water will naturally follow that path. So many natural outfalls along this road have been developed. By the time we finish the road, the flood will affect so many people because they have built.
It is not our fault. Some are built outside our Right of Way. We don’t have power over that. But the state or people of that state sold the land to them. So on the Redeemed case, the guy was saying I am an architect, I just felt sorry for him. You are talking authoritatively on a wrong notion just to justify that the water was sent to Redeemed. You have forgotten that it is a natural outfall. Nobody made drain to that line. It is a disaster that is waiting to happen. You are advised to remove your fence because it is on natural outfall.
Q: What advice do you have for the affected community?
Engr. Adebote: The state and federal governments are considering the community that will be affected. I had a meeting with the Ogun State Commissioner for Works and Planning. Also, the Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Fashola (SAN) came there himself and invited the Governor of Ogun state in the interest of the people. They had a meeting on how to resolve the issue. It will be amicably resolved.
Compensation is part of the contract. However, if you are within the Right of Way, it depends on the consideration of the government for you to get compensated; and that’s if there would be compensation. On the other hand, if you’re one inch away from the Right of Way, the government has no right over you. They will pay for whatever is there. This Right of Way weighs a lot more in other countries. In the first instance, you will pay the government for removing the structure you erected on the Right of Way in a civilised society because you are creating obstacles. And that’s why you see the state government bulldoze buildings and go. It is within their jurisdiction to do so and you will not see any litigation.
They should not follow the marks for now. Those marks are not permanent. Actually, it was more than that. It was 1km they marked before. When you are proposing, you just say it will get to here and here. The final mark is coming. The government you see also doesn’t want to pay compensation much. That is if they can avoid it, they will avoid it. Once the people are outside the Right of Way, they have no fear. But if they are inside the Right of Way, it will be between them and the government.
The government is not saying they must be removed and they can’t pay them. If not, we would have removed them and used the excuse of constructing the bridge. But these are our relations, our citizens, our people. They have the right to exist and live. Forget about policies that say they cannot build there. Yes, they cannot build there. If you say they should go and demolish their houses and in another 50 years you are not using that place, of what benefit is that? If we should stick to what is supposed to be, no house or community will have access. Look at Ibafo, if it were in the military era, they would have cleared that place because it is causing traffic jams and accidents. But the government is a democratically elected government, that has feelings for people. When we were carrying out sensitisation, we trekked from here towards Ibadan, with our vehicles following us. Myself, the comptroller himself and other members of our team.
….ZJM fires back
In a switch reaction to the interview granted by Engr. Adebote, Zumuratul Jamiu Mumin, ZJM, said the agreement they had with the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing was a flyover, not an interchange.
The spokesman of the society, Ustadh Qaseem Adejare supported his claim with a letter from the Ministry of Works, inviting them to a stakeholder’s meeting on the CONSTRUCTION OF FLYOVER at the Lotto road junction. The meeting was held on Friday, June 14, 2019, and signed by Engr. K.Y Ibrahim, who was formally supervising the project.
Ustadh Adejare also faulted the claim that the community is sitting on the government’s right of way, saying that, “No state government will grant you Certificate of Occupancy when your parcel of land is on the right of way. The people of Islamic City have their Certificate of Occupancy because they are not sitting on the right of way.”
According to him, “They deliberately marked our facilities and others in order to cast terror into our hearts. They claim to have political powers. Tell them we only have the power of Allah who is our Helper, Our Protector. Allah who supported and assisted Prophet Muhammad (SAW) at the battle of Badr will surely make us gain victory over our enemy In Shaa Allah. I tell you, there is no enemy that can overcome Islam, they can only shake us. But, mind you, whoever shakes the stump of a tree shakes himself.
“They said we should not shout when they were piercing our body with pin. Now they are stabbing us. How can you describe a person who is stabbing you and continue to say you should not shout? Tell them that a person who stole the hen of the poor has carried to the
market the hen of a talkative,” he noted.
He said there is no truth in the claim that the churches were affected, asking the Project Supervisor to provide evidence that Redeemed Christian Church of God and Deeper Life Bible Church were also affected in the evacuation exercise.
According to him, “When you are ready to do justice, you should go and mark one giant church in Redeemed for demolition in the name of interchange. You mark one secondary school, their staffroom, their laboratories, their exam hall, their library in the name of making interchange. Go ahead and mark one primary school at Redeemed Church for demolition. Tell them they must not shout. As you mark the building of our founder and the graves for demolition go ahead and do the same at Redeemed Church.
“As you mark the graves of our deceased fathers and mothers among things to be destroyed, go ahead and do the same at Redeemed Christian Church of God. Then construct the interchange that will consume some acres of land among the thousands of acres of land which belong to Redeemed Christian Church of God, which will lead to the auditorium and the university. This is the best alternative. As you wish to be done to others, it shall be done onto you,” he said.
Speaking further, Ustadh Adejare asked:
Why are they lying to people? Why are they persecuting us? Is it only because we believe in the Oneness of Allah, Who has neither son nor partners? Surely, I know that Allah Who delivered the people of Israel from the hand of Pharaoh will deliver us from their hands.
“We are not sitting on the right of way. That is the reason you (the Supervisor) do not see our buildings when you are passing by. Were we sitting on the right of way in 1992 when OPIC threatened us with eviction notice that we should vacate our land within seven days without any right? Were we sitting on the right of way when Redeemed Christian Church of God forcibly encroached on our 10 acres of land, demolished our building, destroyed our vegetation and farm produce and valuable trees which were meant to feed the poor, needy, orphan and the widow? They moved the virgin earth with their bulldozer that only remained clay that could not grow anything.
“Were we sitting on the right of way while Redeemed Christian Church of God brought 50 gang of thugs and hoodlums on our land to chase mullahs and women in Hijab away? Were we sitting on the right of way when Redeemed Christian Church of God in year 2008 forcibly grabbed six acres out of 10 acres of our land without any right, without any compensation?
“When we charged them to court, they showed no appearance three times at the court of law. Were we sitting on the right of way when Redeemed demanded that we should relocate somewhere else? Were we sitting on the right of way when the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing marked our mosque, primary school, secondary school, staffroom, examination hall, laboratories, library for demolition?
“Were we sitting on the right of way while the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing and Julius Berger officials came to mark the building of our founder, Alhaji Muhammed Jamiu Adeyemi Aboyepe, the grave of our founder’s mother, the grave of the Caliph after the founder, Alhaji Bello Abdul Raheem Folorunsho and the graves of our Muslim fathers and mothers among those things to be destroyed?
“All these things are to be destroyed in the name of making roads that will lead to the Redeemer’s Auditorium and University as we heard from the mouth of the Minister of Works and Housing himself on the 16th September, 2021,” he added.
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