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Lagos explosion: Residents condemn FHA boss’ takeover comment

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SOME residents of the community have condemned the plan by the Federal Government to acquire the Abule-Ado community in the Amuwo Odofin Local Government Area of Lagos State that was devastated by an explosion on Sunday.

Twenty persons, including the Administrator and workers of the Bethlehem Girls College, lost their lives to the explosion, which also destroyed over 50 buildings.

While the corpses were recovered from the rubble of the collapsed buildings, the fire which followed the explosion ravaged the community and burnt some other buildings.

Hundreds of residents were rendered homeless as a result of the tragedy.

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu had on Monday set up a N2bn relief fund for the victims of the explosion.

The acting Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Federal Housing Authority, Umaru Buntu, had said during an assessment tour of the area on Tuesday that Federal Government acquired the land from the Ojo Military Cantonment to the Lagos International Trade Fair Complex area in 1973, adding that it would come back to take over the area.

Reacting to the statement, a resident of the community, Emmanuel Umeh, who noted that the residents and the FHA had been in a good relationship, said he was shocked to hear that the area would be taken over by the Federal Government.

He stated, “We expect the government to come to our aid but I’m highly disappointed by the statement of the FHA boss, because we have been to the FHA several times and we have an agreement with it. We are not here illegally.

“We sent people to the FHA to work on the documentation of our land and what the FHA told us was that the state government took it to court, because Lagos wanted to recover the land from the Federal Government.

“The FHA told us that it could not develop the place and that it had stopped the development of Festac Town on the Seventh Avenue and that we should develop here and when it settles with the state government out of court, we would have our survey plans and title documents and rectify the land and the state would give us Cs-of-O. So, we are surprised now that the agency is denying us.

“When we had issues with the pipeline, the NNPC officials came to demarcate the land and we observed the 40-metre setback they said we should stay away from. We have been in good relationship with the government and now that we have a problem, the government should come to our aid and not take what we have; the government should support us. I lost property worth over N130m to the explosion.”

Another resident, Prophet Uche Festus, while condemning Buhari for not visiting the community, stated that some of the residents bought the land from the Federal Government.

He said, “I bought this land from the Federal Government and I have documents to that effect and many people here are not strangers; so, it’s not about documents.

 “Last year, soldiers came and cleared this place and told us that we should go and repurchase the land from the Federal Government, which we did and we have the receipts. If we have a government that loves its people, the things we are saying here now are not what we should be talking about; many lives were lost and the FHA is talking about reacquiring the land.”

The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), has said his administration will partner the Lagos State Government to bring succour to the victims of the explosion.

During an assessment tour of the area on Wednesday, the President, who was represented by the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar-Farouq, said the Federal Government would partner the state to bring succour to the victims.

While expressing concern over the impact of the explosion on the community, the minister said, “This is a very unfortunate incident and I will say that seeing is believing. If we had not come here, we would not have understood the extent of the devastation and damage here.

“We are here on behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari to commiserate with the government and the people of Lagos State over this very unfortunate incident and we pray that God Almighty will give the families of the dead the fortitude to bear the loss; and for those who have lost their property, we pray that Allah will provide them with more than what they have lost.

“I am here with the Director-General of NEMA and other relevant agencies and we are going to join hands with the state government to see that we bring succour and relief to the affected victims in terms of food and non-food items and medical supplies to hospitals, where the victims are admitted.

“We are also going to be part of the committee (to probe the incident) and I will come up with a strategic way of addressing this issue so that we don’t see this kind of unfortunate incident occurring ever again in our country. On behalf of the Federal Government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari and the good people of Nigeria, we offer our deepest condolences to the government and people of Lagos State.”

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