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By Chukwudi Iwuchukwu

Chido relocated to Lagos from Onitsha two decades ago.

His dad was a lace fabric mogul in Onitsha, and he wanted to replicate the same success in Lagos, the city famous for its cultural melting point and its diversity.

He came here with the little capital he could afford at the time and then pitched his tent at Idumota Market in Lagos Island where fabrics of all kinds are sold.

Brick by brick, he was able to grow as the God of wealth favored him.

He got married here as well, and all his kids were born in Lagos.

He just built his first house in the same estate where I live in Lagos and moved into the property three years ago. It was a remarkable accomplishment for a man who came here with virtually nothing but his dream.

Business was moving well. One day, he had this brainwave, a master stroke that he believed would change the fortunes of his business.

Why not build a plaza that would serve as an additional revenue stream for his business?

An agent introduced him to a family from Lagos State willing to lease their land for such a venture on Lagos Island.

A sum of 30 million naira was agreed upon between Chido and the family that owned the land, and a lease of 15 years was also agreed upon with an option to renew.

With the agreement in place, the necessary approvals and permissions from the Lagos State Government were sought and given.

Work commenced on site sometime last year. The idea was to build a 90-stores plaza, a befitting modern plaza that could rival Tayo Amusan’s plazas.

Work was completed on site last month. Traders have paid for all the shops, and the property was penciled down to be commissioned this Saturday, and that is when the drama started.

Unknown to Chido and his wife, Amaka Okoli-Chidozie, LASBCA (Lagos State Building Control Agency) has been sending notices of outstanding payments to them to pay up.

Even though they paid all the necessary dues before they began their buildings, they did not know that another payment was waiting for them to clear.

They only knew about the payment last week on Monday, and on Tuesday, the sum of 4.5 million naira was paid by Chido.

The money was paid through bank transfer and a receipt was instantly issued to him.

But more drama was on the way for the 42-year-old businessman.

It was on a Saturday night when his phone rang, and he picked it up. The caller on the line was calling to ask him whether he was aware that LASBCA (Lagos State Building Control Agency) was coming to demolish his new plaza.

He rushed to the site only to meet bulldozers, armed police, and men of LASBCA pulling down his hard work.

A project that cost him over 200 million naira to erect.

For proper context, there was no notice by this agency that they were coming to demolish.

It was more or less an ambush.

When he tried to call the GM of the agency, the man was not picking up his calls.

In that state of confusion, he was dialing the number of anyone he believed could help him, but help was not forthcoming. Rather, he was told that the governor gave approval for his building to be demolished.

It was a sad Chido who went to meet the GM of the agency that demolished his plaza the next day, Monday, to understand what his offense was.

He was told that the building was demolished because he did not pay the necessary building regulatory fees.

“I paid, and I have my receipts to prove it,” he told the man.

Seeing that Chido had his receipt of payment, the Oga quizzed Chido to understand who cleared and accepted his payment.

He mentioned one Mr. Tunde.

But Tunde was with us the day we deliberated on how to demolish your building, the GM said.

He didn’t even bring up the subject of your payment.

He was even with our men when the building was brought down.

How come?

What kind of man is this? The GM wondered.

So a call was placed by the GM to Mr. Tunde to understand why he kept him in the dark when Chido had paid his fee.

Tunde on the other line and started stammering:

“You know…

“I’m sorry, sir.”

The deed has been done and cannot be reversed.

Chido’s 200 million naira dream has been demolished by the Lagos State government.

I spoke to multiple traders in Lagos Island before writing this to understand what Chido’s crime was. The general consensus was that Chido’s only crime appears to be that he is an Igbo man who chose to invest in Lagos.

Unfortunately, there won’t be any consequences for those who intentionally chose to demolish a commercial building, even if the owner did nothing wrong.

For the Tundes of this world, life goes on.

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