Peter Obi Urges Governors To Show Compassion In Demolition Of “Illegal” Structures

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Peter Obi, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party in the 2023 elections, has called on governors across Nigeria to exercise compassion while carrying out the demolition of “illegal” structures.

Peter Obi Urges Governors To Show Compassion In Demolition Of "Illegal" Structures
Peter Obi

In a series of tweets, Obi highlighted the prevalent housing deficit in the country, which leads residents to resort to self-help measures by erecting structures for their homes and businesses, sometimes without proper approvals.

Obi emphasized that corrective measures should not be punitive or insensitive, acknowledging that while some of the ongoing demolitions may be justified, they have left many innocent victims in their wake.

These victims are primarily ordinary individuals who either unknowingly erred or were misinformed or misguided into becoming victims of the current situation.

Addressing the issue, Obi stated, “Recently, there have been reports of widespread government demolition of so-called ‘illegal’ structures erected by some innocent Nigerian citizens in error.”

He continued, “We face a paradox: with a 70 million housing deficit and vast unmet housing needs nationwide, some resort to the self-help of building structures that serve as homes, businesses, SMEs offices, and stores.

“Invariably, some of these structures were either not approved or were built with the tacit collusion or approval of the local authorities. While some of these ongoing demolitions may be excusable, they have nonetheless, left many victims, mostly ordinary people who erred innocently or were ill-informed or misguided.

“Necessary corrective measures to planning or zoning violations by governments, need not be punitive or unduly insensitive. There should always be room for compassion and humane correction in taking any remedial action.

“I respectfully appeal to various governmental authorities to marry the need to enforce compliance with extant regulatory regimes, with consideration for human feelings and necessary compassion.”

In addition, Obi highlighted the current extreme difficulties faced by Nigerian citizens, including stagnant incomes, spiraling inflation, high unemployment rates, escalating socio-economic costs, and the high cost of living.

He emphasized that Nigerians should not be subjected to further hardship and proposed that the concerned governments consider compensating those who have lost properties and livelihoods in the demolitions to alleviate their suffering.

According to Obi, such compensation should fall under the purview of eminent domain, which is applicable to properties and assets acquired or demolished in the public interest. He reiterated that the primary duty of any government is to care for and protect its citizens.

Recent instances of demolitions have raised concerns regarding the treatment of “illegal” structures. On June 2, a task force established by Governor Abba Yusuf of Kano commenced the demolition of structures believed to be unlawfully erected.

Similarly, on June 16, the Lagos State government initiated the demolition of 17 “distressed” buildings in the Alaba market. Prior to this, the government had demolished around 13 houses in Ajao Estate and Shasha areas of the state due to encroachment on airport land.

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