Following the seven-day ultimatum issued to landlords and occupants of 60,000 houses including mosques, churches and public schools within the water pipeline area, community leaders of Akute, Baale Akin-Osin and Oke-Aro communities in Ifo Local Government Areas of Ogun State have sent a Save-Our-Souls appeal to the Lagos and Ogun state governments.

Among the affected buildings is the one housing the headquarters of News Expressonline newspaper.

Information reaching Hallmark has it that the shock from the sudden notice by the Ogun State Urban and Regional Planning Board has already claimed the lives of two landlords while several others have taken ill.

The plight of the citizens, some of who have been residing in the area for over two decades, was the subject of a press conference held on Monday in Akute. It was addressed by leaders of the joint Community Development Councils (CDCs), who identified themselves as dual citizens of Lagos and Ogun states, controlled by the same All Progressives Congress (APC), which they claimed to have overwhelmingly voted for in the last general elections.

At a press conference, the leaders said they are not against the Adiyan Water Project by the Lagos and Ogun State governments.

A leader, Alhaji Ganiyu Busari, however said they want the government agency to reconsider the measure of the specified area to be demolished.

“Rather than the expansive 50-metre set-back, this could conveniently be reduced to 20 metres “set-back,” so that less houses would be affected,” he said.

“We wish to intimate the government that most of the affected house owners are aged and retirees who have no steady means of livelihood.

“Pulling down their homes will further aggravate their predicament. We also wish to call the attention of the government to the fact that any meaningful project should be people-driven.”

They added that accepting the 20 metres setback ensures effective synergy of the government water project as houses marked for demolition do not by any means constitute obstruction to the project.

Community elders noted that most of the 50-metre expanse shall be reserved for machinery and equipment during construction work which, thereafter, may be abandoned, making it a hideout for hoodlums and social miscreants who constitute a burden for the law enforcement agents and threat to peace in the communities.