Lawyer Fault’s Demolition of Deeper Life Church’s Building In Yaba, Lagos
The Deeper Christian Life Ministry (DCLM) has faulted the demolition of its church building at No: 2/4 Biney Street, Yaba, Lagos by alleged agents of the Lagos State Government and the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA).
The church, in a statement by its lawyer, Nojim Tairu, claimed that the demolition, which was carried out on June 5, this year, a day to the church’s founder’s 80th birthday, was done without notice to the church’s management.
“No opportunity was afforded nor Notice given to the church and her members including several students resident in the premises to remove their belongings which became war booties in the hand of the large throng ‘of hoodlums and area boys employed by Lagos State and LAMATA in the dastardly act
“Apart from the church land itself located at 2/4 Biney Street, Yaba, Lagos and the subsisting Lagos State Government approved building foundation thereon valued at about N50million for a proposed two-storey ultra- modem church/headquarters complex, the moveable properties of the church, including items belonging to her members, particularly the resident youth brethren, who are mostly students of Yaba College of Technology, which were carted away by the hoodlums during the demolition, was estimated about N100million.
“This is apart from the existing structure on the land, which the valuation report by the church’s Estate Surveyor & Vaiuer, Olusola Oladapo assessed at N120million (although the amount was inadvertently stated at N140million in the church’s solicitor’s earlier correspondence to the state.
“The demolition was clearly wrong and illegal by any standard. However, more worrisome was the fact that the state and LAMATA carried out their above ungodly and unlawful act despite the earlier letter by the church’s solicitors, Nojim Tairu & Co, calling for communication from the state on its quest to use the church’s property. The church’s entreaties fell on deaf ears as there was no reply from the state till date.
LAMATA could not be immediately reached to comment on the latest development, but it had earlier denied the church’s claim in its earlier letter referred to by the lawyer.
LAMATA’s Head of Corporate Communications, Kolawole Ojelabi, told an online platform, Premium Times that “the issues raised in the petition by the Deeper Christian Life Ministry are untrue.”
Ojelabi said the state government had last October, embarked on a Redline Rail Project from Agbado to Marina to improve public transport.
He added: “All property owners and tenants in affected communities of Yaba and the rest were duly informed and compensated.”
Ojelabi said contrary to the claim in the petition, the government had communicated the planned demolition to the church.
He also blamed the church for not ‘cooperating’ with LAMATA to be compensated. He accused the church of rejecting the N19 million compensation offered by the government.
“We (LAMATA) offered the church over N19 million as compensation for the unoccupied property. You see, when the government acquires a property for public use, it only pays for the depreciated value of the property, not the land itself,” he said.
He added: “They (the church officials) have been to our office twice. I have been to theirs twice.
“We engaged the local government, market women, religious bodies and school authorities; members of the Community Development Association were invited. The meeting was held last year.
“We engaged a consultant to enumerate everybody, property owners and tenants. All the names and properties involved were published in the media.
“All landlords were invited as part of a groundbreaking ceremony, where they were all compensated by the Lagos State Governor.
“They claimed that they were not aware of the announcement for property owners to submit ownership documents. That is not true. The affected properties were all published in the media.
“The church was not willing to cooperate with LAMATA. But this is a public interest project that everyone should key into. Their title documents have been revoked by the Lagos State Government.
“We have given them compensation value. They are contesting the amount of the compensation. It’s strange for a church to misinform the public about the project.”
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