Lagos State Judge Chips Away At State’s Demolition Practices
“LAGOS STATE JUDGE CHIPS AWAY AT STATE’S DEMOLITION PRACTICES
For years, Lagos residents have watched their homes and businesses demolished – with little or no warning, no compensation and no resettlement – purportedly in enforcement of the State’s environmental sanitation laws. Any structure dubbed “environmental nuisance” by the ministry of Environment would be issued a 48-hour “abatement notice” and its owners could then expect to see the Task Force on Environmental and Special Offences or Kick Against Indiscipline (KAI) Brigade at their doorsteps with bulldozers, armed police, and “area boys” ready to demolish.
In a judgement issued on march 5, 2013, justice O.O. ‘Femi Adeniyi of the Lagos State High Court has put the first judicial dent in the State’s ruthless demolition practices. The judge reinforced the fact that the Environmental Sanitation Law of 2001 does not authorize demolitions. Rather, a person who fails to comply with an “abatement of nuisance” notice can only be penalized with a statutory fine. And such a penalty can only be imposed after a fair hearing before the Special Offenses Court.
The clear implication of the recent judgment is that countless demolitions carried out by the Lagos State Task Force and KAI Brigade following issuance of “abatement of nuisance” notices over recent years are patently unlawful – and courts may be ready and willing to subject the lawlessness of executive agencies to scrutiny.
The judgment was rendered in a matter, Agbodemu & Ors v Lagos State Environmental Sanitation Enforcement Agency & Ors (M/710/2011), brought by the Social and Economic Rights Action Center (SERAC) on behalf of four Ebute Metta communities threatened with demolition that would have rendered hundreds homeless…
In the face of such rampant impunity, SERAC sees the recent judgment a small but meaningful achievement in the struggle to protect the social and economic rights of all Lagosians, uphold the rule of law, and curb executive lawlessness.
Social and Economic Rights Action Center (SERAC)
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