12 churches and 2 mosques were demolished on 2nd Avenue, Festac Town, Lagos on Sunday by the officials of the Federal Housing Authority.
According to Punch, the exercise which started around 5am till around 3pm that Sunday also affected a market and a car mart.
Pastor Joshua Obong of the Gate of Righteousness Evangelical International Church expressed his displeasure stating that he started the ministry in that area 18 years ago.
He said, “The officials first came last week and started marking our buildings. After they were done, they left and returned two days later. That was when they gave us a seven-day notice, which expired last Wednesday.
“On Sunday morning, around 5am, we suddenly saw bulldozers at the First Gate, FESTAC Town. They got to my church at exactly 11am; they demolished all the churches along the road, except the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Communion Chapel and CPM, which they spared. All other churches were brought down.”
Insisting there was no warning before the seven day notice, he said they wrote to the office seeking extension of time but the letter was not even acknowledged.
Pastor William Ehiorenren of Christ Gospel church International also stated that they sent a lawyer to Abuja after being advised by a government official.
He said, “He promised that they would not touch any church till the lawyer returned. Our lawyer was still in Abuja when they came on Sunday, a day of service, and demolished our churches. The lawyer called all their staff members, but they switched off their phones.
“We heard that they want to re-allocate the land and sell to moneybags and make millions. I have not seen where seven days would be given for people to vacate their property.
“We have been in that area for years and we spent millions of naira in building our churches. They could not even give us time to move, because they had mapped out their evil plan to sell the land to people.”
Claiming that his church usually paid tenancy rates to landlords, who had legal claims to the land, Ehiorenren insisted that the church was not served any notice of demolition, he also accused the government of leaving certain churches, because their leaders had political connections.
According to the Deputy Director, Social Security and Intergovernmental Relations, Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, Lagos State, Pastor Barnabas Otoibhi, the government accused the pastors of “encroachment and erecting illegal structures.”
He said, “We are wondering why the government would do this on a Sunday. Are they now working on Sundays? Is it the government that is doing this or somebody that is powerful in government or a politician is behind this?
“The notice they sent to them, they called it final notice, without serving them any previous letter. We asked that they should be given time. We were discussing this when the bulldozers came in on Sunday morning. The first church was pulled down at exactly 5.45am. Aside from the churches, they also cleared those selling cars in that line. Only a few buildings were spared.”
The cleric said a protest was planned for today (Tuesday) to kick against the “shabby manner” in which the churches were treated.
An official of the agency, who did not identify himself, said the government would address the matter during a press conference on Wednesday stating that the government was in the process of restoring FESTAC Town to its original plan.
He said, “Ask those people for their letters of allocation and approved building plans. They don’t have them. So, if you have been staying on somebody’s land illegally for over 15 years, how does the person owe you adequate notice? What notice are they talking about?”