The recent demolition of 13 houses in Ajao Estate, Lagos, was based on the safety and security of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, according to the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).
The authority clarified that the land currently housing the airport was acquired for public use by the Federal Government of Nigeria in 1944, 1972 and 1975, respectively.
In a statement by the acting general manager, corporate affairs, Mrs. Faithful A. Hope-Ivbaze the authority explained that it noticed some encroachments within its acquired land in Lagos in 2000 and set up a committee to investigate and compel those encroaching to cease and desist from such actions. The committee put up ‘Caveat Emptors’ and published warnings in national dailies and local radio stations, alerting people to the risks of purchasing and building on restricted aviation land without consideration for direct dangers on aircraft operations and building occupants themselves.
In 2008, some residents of Ajao under the aegis of ‘Runview Cooperative’ approached the authority for regularisation of their stay on the land. However, to avoid wanton damage and colossal losses, the present administration inaugurated a ‘Regularisation Committee on FAAN Encroached Lands and Property’ charged with identifying and regularising only those properties that do not pose direct and critical challenges to airport safety and security.
FAAN’s directorates of airport operations and aviation security held several stakeholder engagements and meetings with the residents of the Ajao axis, bringing to their knowledge the dangers of erecting houses on pipelines, waterways and the airport’s perimeter fence, blocking access for security patrols. Most residents cooperated except for a few who ignored the warnings and continued erecting their structures in the ‘red zones’.
Out of 254 buildings evaluated in the committee’s report submitted in 2022, 220 buildings were recommended for regularisation as they pose no direct or critical security and safety challenges to the airport. They have been duly regularised. The remaining 34 structures were marked for demolition as they were built within FAAN’s perimeter fence and above the aviation fuel pipeline and waterways, posing direct safety and security challenges to the airport and occupants.
The occupants of these buildings were duly notified of the impending demolitions, and an intensive awareness campaign was carried out through “stop-work” markings and planting of notice boards within the ‘red zone’. In September 2022, FAAN wrote to the Lagos State Government for its cooperation in conducting the exercise in the interest of aviation and communal safety and security.
The authority said it plans to remove illegal structures at all other airports with similar challenges.
FAAN advised all illegal occupants to relocate from all airport lands for their own safety and security, as “this exercise is not only vital for airport operations but also for the safety of the occupants of the illegal structures. FAAN is committed to ensuring that the airport environment remains safe and secure for all stakeholders,” Hope-Ivbaze’s statement said.