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Ogun, ex-gov Daniel’s wife clash over plaza demolition

The Ogun State Government said it took proactive measures by partially pulling down DATKEM Plaza, Ijebu Ode, said to be owned by Mrs Olufunke Daniel, the wife of the state’s former governor, Otunba Gbenga Daniel...READ THE FULL STORY HERE▶▶▶

The government called the plaza an illegal structure without an approved plan and added that it contravened the state’s physical planning laws.

In a Sunday statement signed by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development, Olayiwola Abiodun, the government said the structure violated the building codes of the state with numerous defects.

He said several efforts made by the state government to halt further development on site were ignored by the developers.

He said government officials requested the structural engineer in charge of the building to assess the structural equilibrium of the building, a request that was ignored.

According to the PS, what the government did in partially pulling down the defective building was to be proactive.

He further challenged the owners of the structure to produce evidence of government approval in their possession.

A lawyer for the former governor’s wife, Mr Adeyinka Kotoye (SAN), said the state government on Sunday morning ignored the relevant court papers served on them on September 7, 2023, not to go ahead with the vandalisation and demolition of DATKEM Plaza belonging to the former first lady.

Kotoye disclosed in a Sunday statement issued that the vandalisation was carried out by some suspected political thugs who were alleged to have operated in the building under the shield of some police officers from 3 am to about 5:30 am Sunday morning.

But the permanent secretary said that the building lacked stage certification, which is usually issued at every stage of construction.

He also said that owners were served the necessary notices, including abatement, contravention, stop work, and demolition, between May and October 2022, which were ignored.

He explained that DATKEM Enterprises Limited applied to construct an office complex located along Ibadan Road, Ijebu Ode, in 2009 with registration number CB/05/299/2009.

“The proposal was for five (5) floors with an airspace of three metres at the right, five metres at the left, and five metres at the rear, and a setback of 32.5516 metres to the middle of Ijebu Ode/Ibadan Road, Ijebu-Ode.

“The Zonal Town Planning Office observed during routine monitoring that the construction on site did not conform to the plan granted as there was a deviation from the airspace and setbacks.

“In addition, the building had been modified and enlarged with an additional-storey building at the back, thereby becoming over-density.

“In view of the above, the following actions were taken:

“Contravention Notice with Serial No. 0106983 was served on May 24, 2022. The Stop Work Order with Serial No. 000623 was served on May 24, 2022.

“Another Stop Work Order with Serial No. 001065 was served on July 22, 2022, when the first notice was ignored.

“Demolition Notice with Serial No. 0007549 was served on October 11, 2022, and Notice to Seal with Serial No. 000815 was served on October 4, 2022,” it read.

The statement noted further that despite all these notices, the developer was recalcitrant and continued with the construction work.

“This prompted the re-sealing of the site on August 1, 2023. However, the sealing did not stop the developer from further construction as work continued on the site.

“However, the developer wrote an appeal for unsealing, which was considered so as to evacuate the belongings on the premises. Thereafter, a quit notice with Serial No. 0030750 was served on August 31, 2023.

“In view of the above, since the developer had remained recalcitrant, the Zonal Town Planning Office’s recommendation for the demolition of the office building was upheld,” the statement added.

The state government reiterated its avowed commitment to ensure the safety of its citizens, adding that any defective buildings in any part of the state will be demolished to safeguard the lives of the people.

Kotoye said PAGE Law is a legal firm representing Mrs Olufunke Daniel over the demolition of the said complex.

Daniel’s wife, while speaking through her lawyer in a statement titled “Vandalisation/Demolition/Executive Recklessness of Ogun State Government”, said that agents of the state government in the early hours of Sunday demolished DAKTEM Plaza belonging to her.

The statement explained that “this matter began when the Ogun State Planning and Development Authority sealed the building on August 31, 2023, asking the owner to vacate the premises within three days.

“Meanwhile, DATKEM appeals for the unsealing of and regulations of the building and pays the mandatory fees of N500,000 to the Ogun State Government. However, we were shocked and astonished that the state government ignored the ongoing legal process and went ahead to demolish the complex in the early hours of Sunday. We want to believe that the advice of the Attorney General on this matter was ignored.”

Daniel, according to his lawyer, declared that, as a law-abiding citizen, he would continue to seek redress in court until justice was served.

The statement read, “We want to believe that Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun, was not informed of this act of illegality, but if he was informed and decided to use the instrument of the state against our clients, it is nothing but executive recklessness, but we shall continue to fight for justice.”

However, the project manager and developer, Olusegun Lawal, said in a statement that the construction of the building started in 2009 with full approval from the relevant authorities.

Lawal revealed that the excuses given by the government are not tenable, insisting there was zero contravention as far as the building of the project was concerned.

It was also gathered that a notice of demolition of the five-storey building was given to the property owners three days ago, leaving them with very little time to respond or challenge the decision.

The project manager also clarified that there are no single structural defects in the building.

Speaking to one of our correspondents on Sunday, Kotoye, who confirmed the demolition, said that they had filed an action in court last Thursday and on the same day served the court processes to the state government.

He said that though the matter before the court had not been heard, they made sure the court processes were served on them.

Kotoye added that “the only reply we got from them after serving them the court papers was the conduct of 3 am this morning.”

Sowunmi’s open letter

A former governorship aspirant on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party in the 2023 general elections in Ogun State, Chief Segun Sowunmi, wrote an open letter to President Bola Tinubu on Sunday. He alleged that the state was safer under former President Muhammad Buhari, a Daura man, and unsafe under Tinubu, a Yoruba man.

Sowunmi, who was reacting to the demolition of DATKEM Plaza, said the action of Governor Dapo Abiodun was unbecoming.

The letter read partly, “The body language of President Tinubu seems to be in support of actions Prince Dapo Abiodun has taken in Ogun State.

“If no one will tell you, I will. Your body language is making us feel very unsafe in Ogun State.

“What type of gangsterism do we call this? President Bola Tinubu, you are enabling Gov. Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State. We keep reporting him, but what we see is that the more we report him, the more you pamper him with access to you. It was funny how he made the trip to India coming on the heels of the allegation of a local government chairman about interference with local government funds.

“Will Ogun now feel safer under President Buhari, a Daura man, and unsafe under a Yoruba man? If no one will tell you, I will. Your body language is making us feel very unsafe in Ogun State.

“Dapo Abiodun got his thugs to attack me in the premises of a court, and then he shamefully removed Wale Adedayo based on a serious allegation of diversion of local government funds. Now a sitting senator has to deal with this?

“President Bola Tinubu, is this the type of thing you stand for, or am I dreaming?

“The likes of Dapo Abiodun, who are profiting from a democratic struggle that took so many lives, cannot be allowed to rubbish what is ideal behaviour and conduct in democracy.

“Mr President, in our Yoruba language, ‘Dundu Dapo Abiodun n’lata Ju.’ (Dapo Abiodun’s actions are getting extremely overbearing.)

“The powers and privileges of a governor cannot and should not be so total that a president will be unable to save the people.”

Reacting, a senior aide to Abiodun, who pleaded for anonymity, said, “Though I am not a spokesperson for Mr President, if Sowunmi is reacting to what happened in Ijebu Ode today, then it’s very unfortunate that he will be supporting illegality.

“It’s not Prince Dapo Abiodun that did the demolition, nor was he that ordered its demolition; the Ministry of Urban and Physical Planning has been on this for so many years. Do we then sit down and allow what happened in Ikorodu and other areas like that to happen in Ogun State before action is taken?

“The law is no respecter of anybody; the lives of every resident of this state are very precious to the government, so the action by the ministry is to forestall any calamity.

“So we are unperturbed by what Sowunmi is saying or writing. What is paramount is for the government to serve its people with diligence and utmost sincerity.”

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