Old Maternity Ground of Controversies: Ikorodu LG, Palace In Face-off Over Redevelopment of Neglected Property
Controversies generated since the demolition of the old maternity structures opposite Post Office, Oriwu road, Ita-Elewa, Ikorodu in 2013 seem to be unabated as another is brewing between the Ikorodu Local Government and the Ayangbure palace.
THE IMPACT gathered that the fresh trouble started over the 3128.31 square metres property with Survey Plan No. LS/D/IKD/55, early August 2016, when it became public knowledge that the Ayangbure of Ikorodu will be moving construction workers into site for the construction of a modern and state-of-the-art library to be named, “The King’s Library & Youth Development Centre”
The library construction which is being sponsored by the royal father’s godfather, Dr Robert Brown, is a major benefit of the foreign trips by Oba Kabiru Shotobi and prominent Ikorodu citizens to the black American multi-billionaire and other places abroad after the kabiyesi’s coronation last year.
THE IMPACT gathered that the Council Administrator, Mr Gbolahan Ogunleye, kicked against the incursion into site without the council authorization since the expanse of land was owned by the council in trust for the community.
A senior official in Ikorodu Local Government secretariat informed our reporter that the council got the information that workers were found on the property on Tuesday, August 22, 2016, in an attempt to commence construction work but they had to stopped them and seized their equipment.
“We were alerted on Tuesday that some people were working on the council property and when we got there and requested to know on whose order they moved into the site, we were informed that the directive came from the palace, but since we cannot really verify that, we had to seize their equipment which were brought to the council” he stated.
THE IMPACT gathered that after some consultation, the equipment were released.
On Wednesday, August 23, 2016, we gathered that the workers reappeared on the land to continue the digging and block laying and the council according to report and had to send the workers away from the site and seized their equipments once again.
Speaking with our reporter on Friday, August 26, 2016, another senior staff in the Council confirmed to THE IMPACT that the seized equipments from the workers on Wednesday, August 24, 2016, are still in the council’s care. He also told our reporter that the Sole Administrator, Mr Gbolahan Ogunleye had briefed the Governor Akinwunmi Ambode on the development.
“Incidentally, when the workers again encroached the council’s property on Wednesday, August 24, 2016, the Sole Administrator in company of other council helmsmen across the state were in a meeting with the Governor. As soon as he was briefed on the development, he tabled the matter at the meeting and the Governor directed him to act as the person in-charge.
Mr Ogunleye was also reported to have denied any knowledge of previous administration granting any request from the palace to use the property.
“I‘m in a very good position to know if there is any request to that effect. More so, the council would not have granted such request because whatever it is going to be used for has to be deliberated upon at the top echelon of the administration.”
Meanwhile, some residents of Pashokun Street have condemned the council for neglecting the property.
Speaking with our reporter, a resident who identified himself as Mr Gbenga queried the managerial competence of the previous administrations that had managed the council for neglecting the property and challenged the current to put it into use.
“The state of the property is very worrisome and it called to question the ability of the previous council officials to manage this property. Do you think any sane man would have left such property unattended to if it were to be privately owned? Imagine what would have accrued to the council if they had made the place a central car park.
“I think the palace is justified since the project would benefit the public when completed. As far as I’m concerned, it has shown that the council is no more interested in the property again and anybody moving in to use it for something that would benefit the public will be justified” he stated.
But he was also quick to add, “In an ideal situation, palace should have request for land use from the council and get approval before moving in.”
A woman who also spoke with our reporter also queried the rationale behind their ejection from the land three years ago when the council was not ready to use the property.
“Since they knew that they were not ready to put the property into use, why did they send us away about three years ago? We were selling our goods there and paying the council but suddenly they came and asked us to leave and since then they have done nothing on it”
On the strength of the Governor’s notification about the development and the council’s protest against the occupation of the property, THE IMPACT gathered that the state building regulatory body, Lagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA,) on Wednesday, August 23, 2016, moved into the property and marked the fence currently under construction by the palace for demolition.
When called on phone, the palace information officer confirmed that the construction work currently ongoing on the property is the proposed public library facilitated by His Royal Majesty Oba Kabiru Adewale Shotobi, the Ayangbure of Ikorodu.
He stated that there was communication gap, adding that the palace has good intention in facilitating the multi-million dollars project which according to him, would improve Ikorodu in all ramifications.
“We are working on the communication gap and I can assure that it will be resolved amicably. The project after completion would be a state-of-the-art library and resource centre that would serve Ikorodu and greatly contribute to our social, economic and political developments. It is a project conceived with good intention and it is an opportunity that requires the support of everyone”
Historical Development of The Old Maternity Site
The old Ikorodu Maternity Centre consisted of five structures built purely with bricks without iron. The structures which were built and commissioned by Major Allen in 1950 served as a Maternity Centre for many years before it was moved to its present location (few metres away from the old structures on Pashoku Street/Oriwu Road).
Through the 1970s and 80s, the old Maternity Centre were used as offices for by the then old Ikorodu Local Government. During the military regime, it was rehabilitated and re-commissioned on February 20, 1990, by the then Military Administrator of Lagos State, Col. Raji Rasaq, as the Ikorodu branch of the Nigerian Peoples Bank.
One of the other four structures adjacent the main one was hosting the Civil Defense Corps of Nigeria and the remaining structures served other purposes until they were abandoned.
The main structure later hosted the Lagos State Independent National Electoral Commission (LASIEC) until the council gave them quit notice. Other structure on the property also hosted National Youth Council of Nigeria, Ikorodu Chapter’s office, United Area Clubs of Ikorodu and Neighbourhood Watch, while other structures and open spaces accommodated mechanics, vulcanizers and other vendors until there demolition.
Controversies Over The Land In The Recent Past
The first controversy came up in January 2013 when the administration of Alhaji Sherif Anipole decided to demolish the old colonial structure originally built and commissioned in December 1950 by Major Allen but was opposed by some advocates who viewd the continuous existence of the structure and other monuments as preservation of historical and cultural and heritage of Ikorodu. The advocates had argued that the council could rehabilitate and modernize the structure that was constructed without iron without having to pull it down.
This was followed by the confrontation between the Anipole led executive council and former leader, Hon. Jimoh Azeez Olosugbo’s led legislative arm over the demolition. Hon. Olosugbo in the morning of January 8, 2013, led other local lawmakers into the site to stop the Eko Akete Engineering bulldozer from pulling down the old structures. It was gathered that while the council executives then wanted a developer to convert the property to a car park and recreational centre, the lawmakers were looking at a more bigger venture that would enhance and secure the council’s finance in future.
When the controversies dust final settled, the site was cleared for the construction of an ultra modern car park and recreational centre by Future Pride Consortium Construction owned by a businessman, Pastor Joe Ighalo. The N440million project was contacted on Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) arrangement.
Before Pastor Ighalo’s company could settled down on site to begin work, another controversy emerged as another company, Ibramod Nigeria Limited petitioned the council, alleging breach of contract. The company lawyer had claimed that the contract entered into over the land between the company and Ikorodu Local Government to build a five-star hotel during Alhaji Anipole’s first term was still subsisting.
While Future Pride’s project was a modest project, the Ibramod Nigeria Limited project was a tall dream of building a 5-star hotel with helipad with first three floors as car park, 2 cinema halls, 4 conference halls with 1000 and 1500 capacity, banquet hall, eatery, gymnasium aerobic centre and swimming pool on the 13th floor and helipad on the last floor among other features. The cost according to the project signed in 2010 (copy which is in possession of THE IMPACT) was put at N14.5billion then.
On the other hand, features of Future Pride project included a Central CAR park, Car wash, Restaurant, Offices and Stores.
While this was going on, Pastor Ighalo also had to endure another problem, ‘the indigene sentient’. A section of the community had rose against allowing Pastor Ighalo, an Igbo man, to be given what they termed ‘community heritage’ to do business. Instead, they proposed that an indigenous investor should be sought for. It was while this was ranging on, the late Ayangbure of Ikorodu, Oba Salaudeen Oyefusi with his entourage on the invitation of Pastor Ighalo stormed the site to lay the foundation of the project and gave royal blessings.
As if the land was perpetually enmeshed in controversy, Future Pride had to contend with three demolition of the structures by the Ministry of Environment for lack of approval, contravention of building procedures, among other allegations.
Some of the All Progressives Congress (APC) leaders were also alleged of complicity in the matter.
After the demise of late Oba Oyefusi who provided Pastor Ighalo’s company the much needed royal protection, the company was eventually forced to abandoned the project after structures built his company on the controversial land were demolished in 2014.
Since then, the expanse of land has remained unoccupied and this has enabled the members of The Redeemed Church of GOD (RCCG), Overcomer’s Parish, Ikorodu, to use it as a car park during their Church services and other programmes.
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