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Madoti Estate: Living at the mercy of death

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Madoti Estate: Living at the mercy of death

They are from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds, but when it comes to surviving in Lagos, they have a common ground. For residents of Madoti Estate, along old Ojo Road in Mile 2 Area of Lagos State, hanging onto their places of abode is a fight to finish. ELIZABETH OGUNBAMOWO and ELIZABETH ROWLAND report

 

When New Telegraph visited the area, it observed that on one side, there were lots of uncompleted buildings, occupied by illegal residents. On the other side, there were numerous shacks and containers serving majorly as a mechanic village, workshops to spare part dealers and cement dealers.

Not only is the place used for commercial purposes, it also serves as a haven for louts, who were seen puffing fags around noon. In complementing the shaggy look of the area, a swamp is situated directly behind the buildings.
The buildings, now with weakened structures, defaced walls, tattered roofs; New Telegraph gathered, were partially pulled down by owners of the estate to avoid casualties of occupants, few years ago. Following this, the occupants were ordered out to ensure rehabilitation of the buildings, but some, for lack of alternatives, defied the order.

In an attempt to speak with the residents of the area, New Telegraph discovered that the residents harbour a fear of losing their roofless homes to the government, promising to punish correspondents whose visit to the area threatens their existence. New Telegraph observed that the residents have resorted to violent acts as a means of protecting their crabby habitat.

However, some residents defied the atmosphere of fear and spoke with New Telegraph. According to Ariremako Ajape, who has been operating an automobile mechanic workshop in the area for 17 years, the buildings were razed about four years ago by the owner of the estate because of the poor state of the buildings.

He also revealed that there had been a legal tussle between the Federal Government and Alhaji Madoti. He explained, “I have been here since year 2000. It has been almost four years since the buildings got demolished. The buildings were already weak before the owner known as Alhaji Madoti brought people from Alausa to demolish it. Initially, the case of the rightful ownership of the estate was in court between the government and Alhaji Madoti,” he said.
Ariremako however, debunked claims that they were forced out of the buildings following the demolition.

He said: “We later won the case. He (the owner) decided to demolish the buildings in order to avoid any casualty since the buildings were already weak. When this place was demolished, we were not asked to vacate the place because our workshop was not in the building. Although, we pay for this place.”

Also speaking on the issue, another mechanic in the area, Bayo Sulaiman, said: “I have been here for over 10 years now. I was here when the demolition took place. There were over 50 uncompleted buildings in the area then. Some officials came from Alausa and razed everything. People who were living in the buildings were seriously affected as they had no roofs over their heads but no physical harm or casualty recorded.”

A man popularly known as ‘Alhaji’ who claims to be the son of Alhaji Madoti, the owner of the estate, pointed out that some buildings in the area have been demolished to avoid casualties except some which he claims were still strong, one of which served as his home and office at that time.

However, he gave an insight into the legal tussle Ariremako mentioned earlier. “l am just the son of the owner. We won the case on the estate from the Federal Housing Authority (FHA). The FHA were encroaching on our land but we fought against them legally and won in 1997. After the case was won, some officials from Alausa came and pasted some papers.

They wanted to demolish the house but I said I would do that by myself. I said that because by giving them the right to demolish, they will charge my father and take away some rubbles and irons and we will still pay tax.”
He further described the occupants of the old Madoti estate as squatters since the buildings were uncompleted. Alhaji also pointed out that the current occupants could not be sent out considering the economic status of occupants.

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