Benjamin Omoike l Sunday, February 11, 2018
AJEGUNLE, Lagos, Nigeria – A zonal headquarters church building of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), under construction in Ajegunle area of Lagos; a hotel, De-Golden Guest Hotel in Opebi, Ikeja and six other buildings have been reportedly sealed by officials of the Lagos State Building Control Agency (LABSCA), over illegal development of structures and for breaking government seal.
Over 11 people found working on the church site, when LASBCA officials visited, were arrested and have been arraigned at the Mobile Court which sat in Ebute Meta at the weekend. The arrested workers have been remanded in prison for their inability to perfect their bail conditions.
The operation was led by the General Manager, LASBCA, Engr. Olalekan Shodeinde. Officials of the Lagos State Task Force were on ground to provide security and to effect arrest of culprits during the enforcement exercise on Saturday.
The RCCG building, a massive three-storey structure, being developed on Old Ojo Road in Ajegunle was said to have contravened government’s seal on several occasion after it was served ‘stop work’ notice, consequently facing the penalty.
Investigations revealed that seven labourers found working on the structure were arrested and in put in a ‘Black Maria’, while about four other buildings on Old Ojo Road were sealed for the same offence and labourers found on site were equally arrested.
An alleged illegal shopping centre in Ajeromi was also sealed. The developer was alreading erecting the third floor illegally, without approval, when LASBCA officials came and sealed up the building.
It was gathered that the structure had been sealed several times, with the shop owners breaking government seals, while two people were arrested in the process.
An alleged illegal shopping plaza under construction at Boundary area of Ajegunle was sealed while a three-storey building and an adjoining one by the same developer in the same compound were sealed at Chidi Street, Awodi-Ora in Ajegunle.
De-Golden Guest Hotel in Opebi area of Ikeja was also sealed as the developer converted a residential apartment to a hotel without getting government approval for the conversion.
LASBCA GM, Shodeinde, told newsmen that all properties sealed had been sealed up to four times in the past, but that their owners always broke government’s seal to continue their illegal development.
He said the RCCG had been sealed several times, but that the church removed the seal to pave way for its illegal development, likewise the other affected buildings. Many people had been ignoring LASBCA seal order, he said, adding that this year would be different as anyone caught would be prosecuted.
“This year, we will come hard on defaulters who remove our seals. We will prosecute anybody found on site. Once a building contravenes, anybody found on it will be arrested and prosecuted. To unseal a sealed site is a criminal offence and the penalty is N500,000,” he said.
Shodeinde said the Mobile Court was brought along during the enforcement so that culprits would be tried immediately and punished for their offences, saying that it was no longer going to be business as usual.
On why government sealed De-Golden Guest Hotel, the General Manager said the structure was formerly a residential apartment, adding that the owner of the property at one time, began renovating the house without permit, which led to its being sealed earlier.
Shodeinde explained that the owner broke the seal and continued renovation, but later paid for the renovation permit.
“To our surprise, when we came, we saw a hotel, the structure has been converted to a hotel without government approval. We sealed the property, but the owner unsealed it again. That is why we are shutting it down now for illegal conversion,” he said.
Those arrested during the operation were arraigned at the Mobile Court. They all pleaded not guilty and were granted bail in various sums. Since they could not perfect their bail conditions, they were remanded in prison as their cases had been adjourned to February 12 for commencement of trial.