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It was tears and sorrows for many property owners as the Ondo State Government effected the demolition of 40 houses it described as “illegal structures” in Akure, the state capital.

Not less than 98 buildings were designated illegal structures built on lands belonging to the state government.

The state government says the land was earlier billed for industrial purposes.

The structures, majorly residential buildings, situated behind the popular Automat, along Akure/Owo expressway were said to have been illegally taking over by land grabbers and sold to the landlords.

The land had been acquired by the government when it was under the western region and had since been designated as industrial area.

Although there were meetings between the owners and representatives of the state government, their pleas for more time and compensations did not stall the demolition.

The Commissioner, Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development, Lola Fagbemi, said the demolition was to reclaim government lands from the control of land grabbers.

“Sometimes ago, the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Infrastructure informed us tha area upon the creation of Ondo State on February 3, 1976 and this is one of the greatest immovable assets that we have as a state,” Mrs Fagbemi said.

“Records at our disposal also showed that compensations were paid to the initial owners when the land was first acquired.

“We are using this medium to call on the people affected that this area is an industrial area and no residential building will be allowed there. It should as well be noted that government cannot in anyway be intimidated.”

She said appropriate legal processes had been followed as the matter had been ongoing since 2016, adding that proper notices were duly served on the victims.

“This has been done even when some of these houses were still at the foundation level but they all turned deaf ears,” she said.

“Let it also be on record that none of the houses built on this land has the required land documents to proof their ownership, no C of O and neither do they have land use permit. These are lands taken over by land grabbers.”

On his part,Commissioner, Ministry of Lands, Housing and Infrastructure, Raimi Aminu said the demolition was essential and urgent especially as the state awaits the commencement of the long anticipated Ondo Port.

“Before now, all the lands from Oyemekun, Irese down to ORSC, Automat, Shagari junction had been acquired for industrial purpose and as at then, the highway was not there,” he said.

“Now that Ondo state is getting ready for Port Ondo which we believe will come to limelight in the shortest possible time, that expansion must come to the headquarters.

“We have large expanse of land for industrial purposes but this lands have been encroached on and this is why we have gone there to carry out the first phase of the demolition exercise.

“The government of Ondo is not one without pity, the pleas and cry for leniency made us soft pedal a little for the remaining occupants to pack their loads and pick a few things from the house because we are still coming back to demolish all the houses affected.”

One of the affected landlords who does not want his name in print condemned the exercise, stressing that the government has not done well enough, saying they were not given enough time.

“They served us notice just about three days and today they are here to demolish our buildings,” he said.

“I do not know where I will start from. This is what I have spent my entire life earning on, this is quite unfair and unfortunate.”

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