Clash of the Titans: Real Reason Gov Ambode is after Muiz Banire, Tejuosho and others
Barely two weeks after the invasion and sealing up of the residence of Hon Funmilayo Tejuoso in Lagos, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode is currently at loggerheads with Muiz Banire, the National Legal Adviser of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Banire has raised an alarm over a planned demolition of his aged mother’s residence in Ikeja G.R.A, a move he described as vendetta. He claimed that since Ambode became governor, he has been victimising him and his supporters, Funmilayo Tejuosho inclusive.
Although both men are from the same Lagos State and are members of Nigeria’s ruling party, they belong to different factions of the party which has virtually been at war with itself in various states since it won the 2015 general elections in Nigeria.
Banire was one of those who opposed Ambode’s choice as APC candidate in the build up to the 2015 governorship election in Lagos, and also had a running battle with the party leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
Meanwhile, a top chieftain of the APC who craved anonymity told this magazine that Lagos State government is actually out to silence all anti-party agents, as the party does not want a repeat of the internal crisis that could have marred it chances during the last election.
“It is high time those who don’t wish to continue as members of APC cease to be one. You can’t claim to belong to us and still be fighting us underground. Let me tell you, what the Lagos government is currently doing to its detractors is a unanimous decision of some party bigwigs,” our source hinted.
However, in a statement on Wednesday 15 November, Banire explained that “It has become imperative for me to urgently issue this press statement to notify all men and women of good conscience on untoward activities of the current government in Lagos State that is hell-bent on persecuting my family for no reason besides that I insisted on the need to observe the rule of law.
“Notice came to me yesterday, the 14th day of November, 2017 at about 6 p.m. while on lesser hajj in Saudi Arabia about a notice of contravention purportedly served on the residence of my 90-year-old mother, Sarat Banire, at her 24A, Remi Fani Kayode Street, GRA, Ikeja, Lagos by the agents of Lagos State Government from the Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development demanding within 24 hours, proof of planning permit obtained before the building was constructed. The contravention notice further threatened demolition of my mother’s two-bedroom bungalow within 48 hours of the notice.
“It behoves me to put the record straight. My siblings and I acquired a lease of the property known as 24A, Remi Fani-Kayode Street, GRA, Ikeja, Lagos from the Federal Government to serve as residence for my aged mother. The lease covered the 2-bedroom bungalow already on the land together with a boys’ quarter. I did not have any reason to rebuild the house or do any further construction as the place was fit for the purpose for which it was acquired on lease.
“I know that since the creation of the lease, my mother has been living in the said 2-bedroom bungalow without adding a block to the property by way of additional construction, development or alteration save minor renovation like painting. The reasons why we could not develop the property to make it more befitting is that we are still awaiting federal consent to the lease created in my mother’s favour.
“Surprisingly on the 14th day of November, the contravention notice purportedly served by government requires that a building permit must be produced for an old building the existence of which predated the lease by which my mother became the occupier of the premises. The property belongs to the Federal Government of Nigeria who granted a lease to my mother and save for minor renovations to make it habitable, no single efforts at construction or reconstruction has been made by any of us. How on earth could it be heard that a tenant is required to produce a building permit of a property that belongs to her landlord within 24 hours otherwise she risked demolition of the building?
“I had earlier said that the Lagos State government, under the governorship of Akinwunmi Ambode is out on a vendetta and having failed to get me removed as the National Legal Adviser of All Progressives Congress, has targeted my supporters for persecution. The more recent is the invasion and sealing up of the residence of Honourable Funmilayo Tejuoso without a court order and in flagrant disregard to pending proceedings of the Lagos State High Court in a suit instituted by Honourable Tejuoso’s company and the Lagos State Government.
“I had been expecting that, since I was the ultimate target having received several messages threatening my family members and me, very soon my properties shall become objects of demolition by the vindictive government that is out to wage war against real and perceived enemies. I am, therefore, not surprised to see that my aged mother’s residence is under attack.
“However, certain points become quite pertinent:
- It has never been heard that a tenant of a property shall be required to produce the building permit by which the property leased to him was constructed;
- what urgency requires that the occupier of a premises be given just 24 hours to produce a building permit of which he/she could not have been in possession?;
- What urgency requires that the building be demolished within 48 hours of issuing a contravention notice if not vendetta?
- It is clear that Minister’s Consent to the lease in accordance with the law is still under processing with the Office of the Minister for Power, Works and Housing in Abuja and same has not come out which prevents the building from being developed;
- The building is not dilapidated and neither does it constitute danger to any life or property. What exactly brought this building within the context of demolition if not that it is linked to Muiz Banire?
“I want to sound this note of caution to the Lagos State Government that I am not daunted by all these acts of terrorism which it has embarked upon in recent times. My call for internal democracy in All Progressives Congress, prevalence of rule of law and resistance to imposition came out of personal conviction to serve my creator in all ramifications and at every opportunity.
“All necessary reactions to the notice have been escalated to both the Lagos State Government and the Federal Government as I have caused my lawyers to respond to the notice appropriately. I have no doubt that this latest Gestapo tactic is in furtherance of the political victimization and oppression raging against me and my associates. I am ready for the sacrifice even if I have to in the process sleep on the street of Lagos. Rule of law and institution building remain sacrosanct to me. As far as God continues to protect my life, I will remain resolute on it. As the political repression continues, I urge all my followers and supporters to be calm. If God says that my ailing mother at the age of 90 will die in the hands of Governor Ambode, I give God the glory”.
However, Lagos State government also countered Muiz Banire stating that Mr. Banire trying to be clever by half, but is being childish in whipping up sentiments that his dear aged mother is the target of the said demand for development permit and that the said property might be demolished in 48hours. Here is the excerpt from the press release from the state government
The attention of Lagos State Government has been drawn to a statement credited to Mr. Muiz Banire over a routine contravention notice served on a property sited at No. 24A, Remi Fani-Kayode Street, Ikeja GRA, in which Mr. Banire alleged a deliberate target on his newly acquired property.
The State Government wishes to state without equivocation that not only is Mr. Banire trying to be clever by half, but is being childish in whipping up sentiments that his dear aged mother is the target of the said demand for development permit and that the said property might be demolished in 48hours.
In a statement signed on Wednesday by the State’s Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Tpl. Anifowose Wasiu Abiola, the Government said neither allegation is a sincere reading of the notice served on the property.
The Commissioner clarified that the contravention notices that went out on Wednesday November 15, 2017 were a routine exercise served on properties identified by the state agents as operating without due permits. He said 27 properties were indeed served on that same day, 13 out of which are located on the same Remi Fani-Kayode Street in GRA, Ikeja, where Banire admitted his property was located.
“There is no way Lagos State would have had a pre-knowledge of the owners of the properties in question let alone targeted the one that Banire has identified to be his own”, Anifowose said. He added that aside the 13 houses affected on Fani-Kayode Street, there were a few others in Ikeja GRA and the rest in Ikoyi and Yaba. “The 27 properties served across the state are just the first set of an ongoing exercise embarked upon by the Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development to validate the records and permits of properties that have undergone ownership transfer processes. This is a routine and lawful exercise that ought not to be confusing to a supposedly learned gentleman who has had the privilege of serving in the Lagos State Cabinet for a dozen years”.
The statement said by his admission, Banire agrees that a transfer of ownership on the property he has acquired is indeed taking place and what the Lagos State law demands is a validation of this claim so that the requisite permit on the existing property; an alteration to it or a new construction, as the case may be, may be sought and obtained.
“To suggest that because the transfer of ownership from the federal government to Mr. Banire is yet to be finalized makes him a mere tenant on the property he has acquired is not only disingenuous but is an attempt that is subtly fraudulent. While it is true that every government property sold to individuals or corporate entities is released to the owner on a 99-year lease, no new owner who has bought a property from government deceives the public that he is a mere tenant to the government on an acquired property. Or is Mr. Banire a tenant to the government on the other properties in Ikeja GRA he owns in the state?”
Anifowose also described as deliberate mischief, Banire’s claim that the said property would be demolished within 24hours if the permit was not produced.
The Commissioner said according to the Lagos State Urban and Regional Planning and Development Law 2010, what a contravention notice demands is evidence of planning permit on the existing structure in order to avoid demolition of what would be deemed a contravention if such a permit is not produced within the stipulated time as required by law.
“The law indeed demands that the property owner in question produces all documents in support of his/her case within 24 hours of the service of the Notice after which any contravention is expected to be removed by the owner within 48hours”
Anifowose clarified that if the owner still refuses to honour such notices; a quit notice will then be issued to the owners of any of such property identified to have contravened Lagos State building plans or failed to provide the necessary documents to back his claims. He added that even after the expiration of the seven-day quit notice, no demolition of such properties can happen till the Governor Grants approval. “So, it is patently false that any house has been marked for demolition within 48hours. This is the law that has been in existence since 2010 when Mr. Banire was still a cabinet member in the Lagos State government.”
The statement added that while it was within Banire’s right to identify with any set of cohorts that may be struggling with wanning influence and political relevance, it is a pathetic case of scaremongering to equate his untidy record keeping with political witch-hunting. It is not a sign of maturity to be crying wolf where there is none. Lagos is working excellently well for others to copy because it has stayed faithful to governance guided by the rule of law. Mr. Banire should comply with the rules and not create cheap distractions that are unhelpful”, he stated.