The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has justified the action it took to demolish some structures illegally occupying acquired land belonging to the authority.
According to FAAN, contrary to the erroneous information or deliberate misinformation by some persons, the recent demolition of 13 houses posed grave dangers to the operations of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport.
Commenting, the Spokesperson for the FAAN, Mrs Faithful Hope-Ivbaze stated that the area of land presently housing the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos was acquired for public use by the Federal Government of Nigeria through the Lands Acquisition Ordinance by FGN Official Gazettes in 1944, 1972, and 1975 respectively.
Sometimes in the year 2000, the authority noticed some encroachments within its acquired land in Lagos, and a committee was set up to investigate and compel those encroaching to cease and desist from such actions.
She stated that the committee put up, “Caveat Emptors” and positioned them strategically within the areas under encroachment, adding that they are still in place.
She said publications were done in national dailies and advertorial jingles in local radio stations, warning people of the risks in purchasing and building on restricted aviation land without consideration to the direct danger to aircraft operations and the building occupants themselves, lamenting that these warnings were not heeded.
Faithful further explained that in 2008, some residents of the Ajao axis of the encroached land, under the aegis of “Runview Cooperative” approached the authority for regularisation of their stay on the land.
To avoid a situation of wanton damage and colossal losses, the present administration on assuming office, inaugurated a “Regularization Committee on FAAN Encroached Lands and Property “.
The committee according to her was charged with finding ways of identifying and regularising only those properties located in positions that do not pose direct and critical challenges to airport safety and security.
Faithful explained that the FAAN directorates of Airport Operations and Aviation security commenced stakeholders’ engagements and met severally with the residents of the Ajao axis, stressing that all meetings were recorded and filed bringing to their knowledge the dangers of erecting houses on pipelines, waterways, and the airport’s perimeter fence, leading to blocking access for security patrols.
Her words: “Most of the residents cooperated, except for the few who ignored and continued erecting their structures in the “RED ZONES”. In the committee’s report submitted in 2022, out of 254 buildings evaluated, 220 buildings were recommended for regularisation, as they pose no direct/critical security and safety challenges to the airport. They have been duly regularised.”
“The 34 others that were built within FAAN’s perimeter fence and mostly erected above the aviation fuel pipeline and waterways, clearly posing direct safety and security challenges to the Airport as well as to their owners/ occupants themselves were marked for demolition.”
The occupants of these buildings she said were duly notified of the impending demolitions, and intensive awareness campaigns through “stop work” markings and planting of notice boards within the Red Zone.
She further stated that in September 2022, FAAN wrote to the Lagos State Government for their cooperation in conducting this exercise in the interest of aviation and communal safety and security, adding that the removal of illegal structures was also scheduled to be carried out at all other airports that have similar challenges even as she advised all illegal occupants to relocate from all airport lands for their own safety and security.
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