The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) yesterday read the riot act to illegal occupants of land around airports nationwide to relocate for their safety and security.
Acting General Manager, Corporate Affairs, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Mrs Faithful Hope-Ivbaze, who made this known, said some buildings erected on the Lagos Airport perimeter fence, aviation fuel pipeline and water ways posed direct safety and security challenges to the airport.
Besides Lagos Airport , Mrs Hope-Ivbaze said FAAN will soon remove the illegal structures at other airports with similar safety and security challenge.
She said FAAN was compelled to offer clarifications on this matter because of the circumstances surrounding the recent demolition of 13 houses posing grave danger to operations at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos.
Mrs Hope-Ivbaze said before FAAN carried out the exercise it consulted owners of the affected buildings for many years, even as notices were issued for them to stop construction on the site.
She explained: “With respect to the recent demolition of 13 houses posing grave dangers to the operations of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) wishes to make some clarifications to correct the erroneous information circulating in the public.”
“It is important to state clearly 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.
“The committee thus put up “Caveat Emptors” 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. These warnings were not heeded.”
She said In 2008, some residents of Ajao axis of the encroached land, under the aegis of “Runview Cooperative” approached FAAN for regularisation of their stay on the land.
To avoid a situation of wanton damage and colossal losses, the management inaugurated a “Regularization Committee on FAAN Encroached Lands and Property “, which was charged with finding ways of identifying and regularizing only those properties located in positions that do not pose a direct and critical challenges to airport safety and security.
She said FAAN directorates of Airport Operations and Aviation security commenced stakeholders’ engagements and met severally with the residents of the Ajao axis , with all meetings recorded and filed ; bringing to their knowledge the dangers of erecting houses on pipelines, water ways and the airport’s perimeter fence.
Such houses , she said blocked access for security patrols.
She affirmed :’ 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 or 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 water ways, clearly posing direct safety and security challenges to the airport as well as to their owners and occupants themselves were marked for demolition.
“The occupants of these buildings were duly notified of the impending demolitions, and intensive awareness campaign through “stop work” markings and planting of notice boards within the Red Zone.
“In Sept 2022, FAAN wrote to LASG for their cooperation in conducting this exercise in the interest of aviation and communal safety and security.
“Another removal of illegal structures is also scheduled to be carried out at all other airports that have similar challenges.”