The Lagos State Environmental and Special Offences Agency, otherwise called the Lagos State Task Force, has raised the alarm over the incidence of illegal shanties development and its effects in the state.
The Chairman of the agency, CSP Shola Jejeloye, in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday in Lagos, regretted that it had become a big business to some people and menace to government and residents of the state
Jejeloye said shanties kept springing up because some influential people in communities allocated land and collected ground rent on open spaces for occupiers to build.
He said shanties were also used as criminal hideouts where a lot of illegal activities took place, with some people feeding fat from proceeds of the crimes and Illegalities.
The task force boss said shanty dwellers paid between N30,000 and N50,000 for little spaces referred to as ‘four corner’, where they could erect various temporary structures.
“Averagely, in every shanty-dominated place, some people do not make less than N10 million there every month, and check where the money goes to, then, you know it is the high and mighty in that locality.
“They are paying, it is not free to live in shanties, so, because of that, those people that are collecting that money, the story they will sell to you is that we (task force) are agents of destruction, just because they are feeding fat on the proceeds,” he said.
Jejeloye debunked allegations that officials of the agency cart away items while clearing shanties or street traders along rail corridors and other parts of the state.
He said series of notices were usually served on shanty dwellers before actual enforcement to clear them, adding that his office respected the dignity of the human person.
Jejeloye said the nation’s constitution allowed people to live anywhere but residents should stay away from areas not approved by government for habitation or other activities.
Speaking on activities of commercial motorcycle operators popularly known as Okada Riders operating illegally on highways and bridges which are restricted routes, Jejeloye said the agency prioritised safety in dealing with the situation.
He said in order to avoid chasing offenders to their death during enforcement, the agency usually waited at designated pick up points to impound motorcycles.
The official explained that any attempt to apprehend the riders while in motion could jeopardise their safety and that of passengers as the rider could become reckless trying to evade arrest.
He said that the agency was carrying out constant raids across the state to impound motorcycles operating illegally on restricted routes.
He assured Lagos residents that the agency would continue to do its best to tackle the menace of recklessness and insensitivity of okada operators.
Responding to allegations of extortion by his men, Jejeloye said some Lagos residents were usually quick to initiate and pay bribes without establishing the identity of the enforcement officers.
He said the only traffic infraction the agency had been involved in checking in the whole of 2023 was one way driving.
Jejeloye said that any other enforcement, including obstruction, was not by his men.
He said the agency would continue to do the right thing, urging residents to always confidently visit the task force office at Bolade, Oshodi to lodge complains or resolve issues on infractions.
“We cannot allow anybody to suffer injustice,” Jejeloye said.
The task force boss advised street traders to limit trading activities to motor parks and markets to prevent obstruction, threats to themselves and other road users.
He said the agency understood the current harsh economic realities and plight of the common man and severally overlooked minor offences.
He warned the public not to fall prey to imposters, saying that the Lagos State task force worked independently in collaboration with ministries to enforce environmental and traffic laws without delegating its authority.
“This particular office stands alone, and when you see us working, definitely, we must have been attached to that parastatal or to that agency and there will be a kind of written directive before we can take such action.
“You will see us with various ministries, with various parastatals but we have never assigned our roles. So, we do not have any affiliates,” he said.
Source: News Agency of Nigeria