The Okun-Ajah Community has cried out to the Federal and Lagos State government to rescue it from an alleged illegal variation of the controversial Lagos-Calabar coastal highway contract route that has put 2000 homes in the area at risk of imminent demolition.

The community through its traditional ruler, the Baale Chief (Alh) Sikiru Olukesi Okanlawon, and its secretary, Balogun Kamorudeen, alleged that this “injustice and injury” is about to be inflicted on them by the Ministry of Works.

The 700-kilometre stretch of road infrastructure, which will span eight years to complete, will gulp a staggering N15 trillion.

The pilot phase of the construction has started at the Eko Atlantic City and it will terminate at Lekki Deep Seaport, for which N1.06 trillion has already been released. It is a highway of 10 lanes, which will cost N4 billion per kilometre, and would be the first of its kind in Africa, according to the Minister of Works, David Umahi.

But many property owners and communities have accused the ministry of unfair and sometimes outright illegal delineation of property to be demolished for the road construction.

The community raised alarm in a press release, calling on President Bola Tinubu, Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, lawmakers representing the Eti-Osa Local Government Area of Lagos State and the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), among others, to come to its rescue.

It said: “Sometime in the year 2006 the Okun-Ajah Community was granted a Certificate of Occupancy over their communal land in Okun-Ajah. The Survey Plan attached to the Certificate of Occupancy clearly depicted the portion of the communal land earmarked for the then proposed coastal road. Knowing full well that that portion of their land had been committed to a federal project, members of the community avoided building on the right of way earmarked for the coastal road.

“However, the original road alignment was changed because many people had illegally built on the right of way. The second road alignment was much more relatively free from building development as only five houses had been erected on that road alignment while the rest of the route is vacant land.

“Surprisingly, the second road alignment has also been changed because some of the owners of the five buildings and the vacant lands on that road alignment are influential personalities. They have now redirected the road alignment to the residential part of Okun-Ajah Community which will lead to the demolition of over 2000 houses including our ancestral homes and our Oba’s palace.

“The pertinent question that we want the Minister of Works to answer to the whole nation is why should the houses of over 2000 people who did not build on the age-long right of way be destroyed because they want to save five houses and vacant lands? Why? This action is certainly not in the interest of peace, order, and good government of Nigeria in general and Lagos State in particular as envisaged by sections 4 and 5 of the Constitution of Nigeria.

“This is the reason the Okun-Ajah people are calling on Nigerians’ to prevail on the Minister to reconsider his proposed action. The Okun-Ajah people are also calling on President Tinubu to urgently investigate the circumstances leading to the jettisoning of the second road alignment which is much more free of building development and the adoption of the third road alignment which will lead to the demolition of over 2000 houses and the Baale’s palace.”

They also urged the the Inspector-General of Police and the National Security Adviser not to allow law enforcement agents “to be used to inflict harm on the people of Okun-Ajah because our people are prepared to defend their community against the proposed onslaught.

During a stakeholders’ meeting at Eko Hotel and Suites in Lagos, Umahi had described the demolition as “tough decision”, saying N2.75 billion compensation was made for properties on channel 0 to 3 kilometres that were demolished.

“These are tough decisions, but had to be taken for economic value. A lot of people doubted that we will not pay, but we let them know that this is the regime of President Bola Tinubu. We initiated a lot of policies and we are witnessing results,” the minister said.