The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria has issued a warning to all illegal occupants of airport lands to vacate the premises for their own safety and security.
In a statement on Tuesday, the General Manager of Corporate Affairs, Faithful Hope-Ivbaze, said the 13 houses recently demolished posed dangers to the operations of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos State.
She said, “The occupants of these buildings were duly notified of the impending demolitions and intensive awareness campaign through “stop work” markings and the planting of notice boards within the Red Zone.
“In September 2022, FAAN wrote to LASG for their cooperation in conducting this exercise in the interest of Aviation and Communal Safety and Security.
“The removal of illegal structures is also scheduled to be carried out at all other airports that have similar challenges.”
Hope-Ivbaze further explained that the area of land currently housing the airport was acquired for public use by the Federal Government through the lands acquisition ordinance by the government official gazettes in 1944, 1972, and 1975, respectively.
She noted that FAAN noticed some encroachments within its acquired land and a committee was set up to investigate and advised those encroaching to cease and desist from such actions sometime in 2000.
“The committee thus put up “Caveat Emptor” and positioned them strategically within the areas under encroachment (they are still in place).
“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 dangers on aircraft operations and the building occupants themselves,” she said.
According to her, 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.
She disclosed that the committee 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.
“To avoid a situation of wanton damage and colossal losses, the present administration, on assuming office, inaugurated a regularisation committee on FAAN encroached lands and property.
“The FAAN Directorates of Airport Operations and Aviation Security commenced stakeholders’ engagements and met several times with the residents of the Ajao axis (all meetings recorded and filed), bringing to their knowledge the dangers of erecting houses on pipelines, waterways, and the airport’s perimeter fence (blocking access for security patrols).
“Most of the residents cooperated, except for the few who ignored and continued erecting their structures in the red zone.”
Hope-Ivbaze said that 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 or safety challenges to the airport.
She added that 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 and to their owners, and occupants themselves, were marked for demolition.