Residents and business owners around Coastal road and environs in the Lekki-Epe area of the state have cried out over the inability of the Babajide Sanwo-Olu-led administration to evict miscreants who have taken over the area, and seem to be blossoming beyond belief.
Despite repeated threats by Lagos State officials to evict the squatters who have turned the area into a den of drug traffickers, prostitutes and other lawbreakers. The Sanwo-Olu government, it appears, is unable to tackle the hoodlums.
It would be recalled that the Lagos State Environmental and Special Offences Enforcement Unit (Task Force) led by the task force Chairman, CSP Shola Jejeloye, had issued a three-day removal notice to all owners of makeshift structures, shanties, kiosks and vehicles at Maroko and on Lekki Coastal Road, Lekki, sometimes in July 2021 but since then, nothing has been done to solve the encroachment problem of the Coastal Road and surrounding areas around the Okunde Bluewater Hospitality and Tourism Scheme.
The agency, in a widely reported statement, said that the road, which leads to Lekki Free Zone, was dotted by illegal structures, shanties, abandoned vehicles, containers and trading activities, and that all illegal structures would be demolished within three days but it seems the order was never carried out.
Earlier in 2020, Governor Sanwo-Olu had promised that the setbacks would be cleared and maintained, pending when the Lagos State Government would be able to commence work on the Coastal Highway. The Coastal Highway is a vital artery that was designed to provide relief to the over-used Lekki-Epe Expressway.
It is also on record that successive governments since the days of Colonel Raji Rasaki have promised and failed to kick-start construction of this vital road.
During a visit to the scene by our correspondents, they witnessed an upsurge of “area boys” besieging visitors to the private beaches at Landmark and Lekki Leisure Centres.
An operator of one of the many entertainment centres in the Hospitality and Tourist Zone who declined to reveal his identity for fear of reprisals from area boys lamented their losses as a result of these unwholesome activities.
He said they had invested millions of dollars in the hope that the area would turn into the entertainment Mecca that Lagos State officials had promised them but the reverse is the case due to the activities of the miscreants who have turned the place into their abode.
Also, residents of Blue Water Apartments, an upmarket 18-storey apartment block built by El Alan Construction, were said to be equally afraid of the area boys who had invaded the neighbourhood. Efforts to secure comments from the Facility Manager proved abortive as he was said to be away at the moment.
This development seems reflective of the inability of governments across the country to secure the lives and property of citizens as Lagos State officials seem powerless to take decisive action against these illegal squatters despite repeated threats to evict them.
There had also been rumours that some of the squatters have close political connections with powers that be, and that is why they were untouchable.
In his reactions, spokesperson to the Lagos State Environmental and Special Offences Enforcement Unit (Task Force), Mr. Gbadeyanka Raheem, said they have sent the miscreants on the Lekki-Epe axis packing several times.
Raheem said, “We have dislodged the illegal occupants around that place but the truth of the matter is that they kept coming back.
“It is a known fact that Nigerian’s meat is hard to chew and that is the challenge we are facing in that area. When you chase them away from that place today, in the next one week, you will discover that they are back there and you know that those shanties are easy to erect.
“Our agency is trying to ensure that the state is free from all the activities of miscreants and that is why we have been working tirelessly to achieve this.
“You can see the way we have been working to stop the influx of Okada on the Prohibited roads yet they keep coming back and yet citizens are still the ones complaining that we are being tough on them,” he said.
He added that no politician will want to identify with miscreants, so the rumour about their having political backing is not true. “No responsible politician will support hoodlums,” he added.
He, however, urged members of the community to try as much as possible to support the agency in their efforts to rid the society of crime by always reporting the activities of the miscreants and hoodlums whenever they return after dislodgment.