Community Calls on Sanwoolu to Probe Demolition of Saint Margaret Group of Schools


The people of the community where Saint Margaret Group of Schools is located in Ikorodu, Lagos have carried out a protest, calling on Lagos State Governor, Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu to halt the actions of the Lagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA), and some armed security personnel and unauthorised individuals, commonly known as touts from demolition of the school facilities.

The School was established 42 years ago, in 1982, at number 26, NBC Road, Ebute, Ikorodu. 

The protesters who were armed with placards with different inscriptions during the protest, made a clarion call to the Sanwo-Olu,  requesting his intervention to halt the actions of the Lagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA), who arrived with fully armed security personnel and unauthorised individuals, commonly known as touts, to prevent any further illegal demolitions of their school facilities.

The Proprietor of the School, Pastor Olusegun Alonge backed by the teachers, parents, staff and the community during the protest cried out to Governor Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu as Chief Lagos landlord to intervene in the attacks the Lagos building control agency under Arc. Gbolahan Owodunni Oki leadership to stop Illegal demolition of Saint Margaret group of schools.  

He decried the actions of the agency on the school established over four decades ago on the property, insisting that the group of schools was severely damaged due to the invasion of said agency without any reasonable prior notice about government demand for payment or policy compliances.

When asked if the school did not possess complete building documentation that could have prompted the agency's visit, the proprietor replied affirmatively, stating they have a collection of documents for all their building facilities. 

Alonge further explained that one of the actions taken after the incident was visiting the office of the LASBCA's General Manager, Arc. Gbolahan Owodunni Oki, but he was denied an audience during the initial visit. 

He said during his subsequent revisit some  days later, he was escorted out by the same General Manager with threats. 

He said: “The General Manager warned that he would instruct the building control agency to downgrade the school if precautions were not taken. He boasted that he has the support of Governor Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu in his activities.

The Proprietor, who apparently have not fully recovered from the trauma of the demolition, made a clarion appeal to Governor Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu to intervene and reopen the school. 

He said he still believes in the Capacity of Sanwoolu government to protect lives and property of the people.

During the incident, some staff members of the school on duty, alleged that the action of those deplored to demolish the school were  similar to those used by kidnappers or bandits. 

They claimed that the agency's task force entered the school premises without identifying themselves with the gate security personnel. When questioned about their identity, some task force members began taking photos and videos of the school facilities without revealing who they were.

Efforts made by teachers and security personnel to prevent this unauthorised action were met with resistance. 

They further alleged that the task force on site then called for additional security personnel and unauthorised individuals, who arrived in large numbers and began demolishing buildings and damaging several classroom facilities.

They said as this was happening, students who were taking exams in their respective classrooms were forcefully evacuated, with threats of violence towards anyone who did not comply with the orders. 

They alleged that: “Teachers and young children were chased onto the main road outside the school premises.

“In the process of this commotion, the pupils and kindergarten children were in panic mode, wailing seriously at the incidence of gun-wielding personnel and fierce-looking touts accompanying them out of their school. Some of them were pointed guns at to leave the school.”

Amidst the protest, Mr Lawani Dominion Abiola, Coordinator of the group of schools, appealed to the governor to use his good office to rescue the school from the attack of the Building Agency, stating that  no notice of whatever intention was served the school for any purpose before the attack committed on March 27th, 2024 around 2 pm while students were still writing examinations papers, nothing less than five staff of the school were arrested and whisked down to Badagry police station on the day of the attack on the school.

Some of the parents who incidentally witnessed the commotion on that day, Mr Obamude Omoniyi and Mrs Enny Jones, condemned the agency's Gestapo approach, suggesting a more civilised method of operation as an elite agency of Lagos State. Omoniyi narrated his continued ordeals in convincing his son, who has vowed vehemently never to return to the school or any other school again due to the traumatic encounters of the armed men at their school. In his words, he quoted the son verbatim: 'Daddy, I have been watching that kind of gun in the cartoon but never known anyone can bring such to our school to threaten us', so I will not attend any school anymore since school is not safe again.

On March 27th, 2024, the neighbourhood experienced an unprecedented event, according to some community residents and local businesswomen who were present during the school protest. They also described the incident as operations carried out by bandits, as reported in radio broadcasts and newspapers. Making a heartfelt appeal, they urged Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, known for his responsible and responsive leadership, to intervene and address the excessive and unethical conduct of the building agency in Lagos State. These emotionally affected mothers expressed their concerns about tarnishing the governor's reputation and the positive work he is known for.

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