Tokunbo Wahab, the Commissioner for the Environment and Water Resources, speak on developments concerning the removal of structures on drainage setbacks

Lagos State Commissioner for the Environment and Water Resources, Tokunbo Wahab

The Lagos state government has reiterated its commitment to enforcing environmental laws for the benefit of the majority of residents.

During his appearance on a television show, Tokunbo Wahab, the Commissioner for the Environment and Water Resources, speak on developments concerning the removal of structures on drainage setbacks.

“No matter the superstructure/beautiful building, if there are no laws and regulations, it becomes a Hobbesian State where life is short, brutish, and nasty,” he noted.

Wahab also insisted that the recent removal of structures on the alignment of Odo Iya Alaro River in Mende Villa estate, Soluyi, Ifako, Arowojobe under system 1, though painful, was based on the overriding public interest.


He said governance ‘is not a tea party, but about taking very painful decisions which will ultimately benefit the majority. Cynics should therefore wait till 2027 for politicking as now is the time for governance.

The commissioner also explained that contravention notices were served on the property owners as far back as 2021, with different levels of consultation with them and their representatives in the House of Assembly.

The last consultation was held in November 2023.

Mr Wahab added that the property developer and executive members of the residents’ association had multiple meetings with government officials but failed to communicate the outcomes to their members.

“The System 1 drainage channel midstream (Odo Iya Alaro) which cut across Ogudu, Ojota, Ifako, Gbagada, Maryland and Ojota, had a setback of 140 metres that has now been reduced to 100 meters by the governor to reduce collateral damage.

“The original dimension was 140 meters for the setback, but the government has decided to put a human face to the enforcement process by moving 60 metres to Ogudu/Maryland section and 40 metres to Ogudu/Odo Iyaloro, making it 100 metres.

“The Maryland/Opebi/Ojota Bridge will affect all the contravening buildings if not removed, which will also cause major flooding,” he noted.

The commissioner lamented that human greed was one of the major reasons why people build illegally and recklessly.

He added: “Most times developers get approvals, but build beyond the approved limits, and this is the case of Mende. They got approval for like 28 units but built 38 units. The facts are there to be verified.

“When you are given authority to build five and you build 10, illegality cannot be on legality. It won’t stand because it is a foundation we need to be careful. All the letters and correspondences from the government being displayed in the public space show that there was a rider that: You must keep to the terms of the approval. Which means it was provisional. For the Mende Villa, we found out that they exceeded the drainage approval they were given.

“The idea of people being brazen without consequences is one of the reasons for our underdevelopment. You can be a very good architect but when it comes to urban planning and environmental issues, it is a different gamut of discussion.

“The will of justice may be slow, but it will surely grind to a halt.”

Speaking on possible compensations for some property owners, Wahab affirmed that each request will be considered on its own merit which is at the discretion of Mr Governor based on recommendations of the State Executive Council.

“Compensation is not a right for properties on drainage setbacks. As a state, I know how much the government has given out to residents of Ilasan, Jakande. I won’t mention figures but over 2,000 people have been compensated; squatters and not allottees are given money to get where to relocate to, that is a government that has shown empathy,” he added.