A businessman in Lagos State, Sunday Soneye has petitioned the governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu over the unlawful demolition of his car wash facility, Bias Car Wash, by thugs and officials of the Lagos State agencies.
The agencies are Lagos State Environmental Sanitation Corps (LAGESC) and Lagos State Waste Management Agency (LAWMA).
According to the petition signed by human rights lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, the aggrieved businessman explained that he had obtained a business space close to the First Anglican Church Mission at Abule Egba and approval from the local government authority and equally applied for a permit from the Lagos State Planning and Environmental Monitoring Authority (LASPEMA).
He said it, however, came as a shock when LAGESC officials on February 17 stormed the office with sticks to destroy the place and left with one of his washing machines.
He added that one of the staff members, one Kayode Omotosho was forcefully abducted but later released at night after the officials had collected the money he had on him.
According to the petition, subsequently, on March 7, a certain Henry Okadigbo believed to be from LAWMA arrived at the car wash premises with thugs and tore off the notice of approval Soneye had obtained from relevant bodies.
The official allegedly threatened to cause more havoc if anyone dared him despite not explaining the reason for his actions.
Meanwhile, after Soneye addressed a complaint letter to the principals of the bodies, Okadigbo returned days after to demolish the structure and raze it completely to the ground.
The petition reads, “We act as Solicitors to MR. SUNDAY O. SONEYE doing business under the name and style ‘Bias Car Wash’, situated along Lagos Abeokuta Expressway, beside First African Church Mission, Abule-Egba, Lagos State on whose behalf and instructions we write.
“We write to bring to Your Excellency’s attention the brutal acts of threat to life, willful destruction of properties, unwarranted and unlawful demolition of our client’s business premises by thugs and officials of the Lagos State Environmental Sanitation Corps (LAGESC) otherwise known as Kick Against Indiscipline (KAI) and Lagos State Waste Management Agency (LAWMA).
“We are well aware of Your Excellency’s much-publicized ambition of creating an investment and business-friendly climate in Lagos in order to spur commercial activities and deliver an economically viable Lagos.
“However, we regret to note that this ambition will be far from reality in view of the incessant and nefarious activities of agents of the Lagos State Government who are doing everything possible to paint a picture of a lawless Lagos State where the abusive deployment of the instrument of state power and brute force to subdue Lagosians and destroy their legitimate businesses and livelihood is the order of the day.
“The facts which have necessitated this petition can be summarized as follows: Sometime in 2021, our client secured a piece of open space from the First African Church Mission for use for the business of car washing services along Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway, beside the First African Church Mission building, Abule-Egba, Lagos State.
“As a law-abiding citizen and resident of Lagos State, he took steps and obtained Local Government approval from the Alimosho Local Government Area and equally applied for a permit and regulatory approval from the Lagos State Planning and Environmental Monitoring Authority (LASPEMA), the Agency responsible for the regulation of operation of informal businesses within Lagos state and more specifically, the Agency is saddled with identifying and designating urban spaces as centres of economic activities for the informal business sector.
“Our client paid the administrative fees and all necessary levies stipulated by LASPEMA and after a physical inspection, checks and assessment of the proposed site by officials of LASPEMA, our client was issued a permit and approval to use the urban space on the 10th of June, 2021.
“The permits and approvals from the local government and state government are attached to this petition and marked as Annexure A.
“Despite being granted permission and approval, some officials of the Kick Against Indiscipline (KAI) otherwise known as the Lagos State Environmental Sanitation Corps (LAGESC), numbering over 40 with sticks and in the company of armed mobile policemen, claiming to be acting for the state government invaded our client’s business premises along Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway beside the First African Church Mission building, Abule-Egba in a thuggish manner on the 17th February 2022 and destroyed our client’s properties, including our client’s car wash machines which they carted away to their office at Oshodi, Lagos.
“The said KAI officials went further to forcefully abduct one of our client’s workers, Mr. Kayode Omotosho, and took him away in their Black Maria vehicle. He was robbed of all the cash on him before being released in the night.
“On the 7th of March 2022, one Mr. Henry Okadigbo believed to be from LAWMA led over 40 thugs and hoodlums to our client’s business premises and tore the State and Local Government permits that our client displayed on the wall of the mini-office cubicle annexed to the car washstand and placed a purported demolition notice insisting he will set the entire place ablaze if anyone dared to confront him and further vowed to demolish the car wash.
“The rampaging thugs damaged our client’s car’s side mirror and inflicted further damage by hitting our client’s car. All entreaties made by our client to the invaders proved abortive.
“They threatened to make our client and his employees disappear and further threatened to unleash hell on our client by using the police to maliciously arrest and keep our client in isolation.
“The thugs came with a branded Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) vehicle. They neither stated the basis for their criminal actions nor served our client any official notice suggesting any wrongdoing.
“On the 9th of March 2022, the same. Henry Okadigbo visited our client’s car wash and pasted a “SEAL ORDER” from LAWMA Office and threatened to bring our client and his business to zero level. Parts of the ugly episodes narrated above captured in pictures are attached to this petition and marked as Annexure B.
“Worried by the strange and malicious activities captured above, our client wrote a petition dated 14 March 2022 to the General Manager of the Lagos State Planning and Environmental Monitoring Authority (LASPEMA) wherein he copied the Hon. Commissioner of the Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development, the Hon. Commissioner of the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources, General Manager of LAWMA and the KAI Corps Marshal to complain about the unfortunate invasion of his business premises and damage to his properties. A copy of the petition is attached herewith and marked as Annexure C.
“However, three days after submitting the petition and to our client’s utmost shock, anguish, frustration and grievance, men of KAI and LAWMA led by Henry Okadigbo of LAWMA accompanied by a large number of thugs and armed policemen invaded our client’s business premises and demolished the place on the 17th of March, 2022.
“They returned on the 18th of March, 2022 and demolished the Admin office cubicle building attached to the car wash structure where business equipment, items and documents are kept and completely destroyed the borehole, stamped on the concrete floor, water pipes, tiles and the pumping machine supplying water for the car wash business. They destroyed, dismantled and carted away the following equipment and items: 1) A steam engine car washing machine.
2) A mobile car washing machine.
3) A vacuum machine. 4) Carport double canopies.
5) Galvanized silver poles. 6) Barb wires
7) Electric wires and security lights. 8) Plumbing wires and pipes.
9) 3 sets of 3 seater iron chairs.
10)6 washing machine pipes.
11) Security alarm system.
“It is mostly sad, depressing and unfortunate for our client who is a law-abiding Nigerian and a tax-paying resident of Lagos State who has neither committed any crime nor broken any law and his eight employees to be rendered helpless, jobless and thrown into immense agony and depression and made to suffer enormous losses amounting to millions of naira inclusive of the cost of construction of the business premises, cost of purchase of equipment and other business items.”
Soneye, has however made the following demands:
“A directive by Your Excellency for an urgent investigation to unravel the motive behind this heartless, callous, gruesome, criminal, illegal and unlawful invasion of our client’s business premises, destruction of properties and demolition of our client’s business with a view to holding all those involved accountable for their atrocious actions.
“A restoration of our client to his business space which he secured with regulatory approval issued by the Lagos State Government.
“Payment of N100,000,000.00 (One Hundred Million Naira) to our client as compensation for the brutal and illegal invasion of his business premises, destruction of his multi-million-naira business equipment and unlawful demolition of his business premises and infrastructures
“Your Excellency, we are of the strong view that to allow agents of the state government to be lawless, to take laws into their hands and to unleash hell on innocent Lagosians will derail any goal of building a sane and responsible Lagos guided by law and justice. It is for these reasons and for the grave destruction and injustice suffered by our client that we respectfully request your Excellency’s urgent action and redress on these unfortunate acts of impunity.
“We hope and count on your fair consideration and just intervention. We will be counting on your Excellency’s response within 7 days, please.