Bayelsa government on Tuesday said that there was no going back at the ongoing demolition of illegal structures in pursuit of its urban renewal project.
It will be recalled that the Bayelsa COVID-19 Task Force Chaired by Gov Douye Diri had in the past weeks demolished illegal structures at Swali and Etegwe areas of Yenagoa, Bayelsa capital.
Mr Freston Akpor, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information in a statement made available in Yenagoa urged residents to disregard speculations that the task force would be influenced to back down.
Akpor, who is also a member of the COVID-19 Task Force in Bayelsa said that a fraudulent syndicate was obtaining money from unsuspecting traders and landlord and promising them that they will facilitate the delisting of their properties from those slated for demolition.
“Landlords and traders in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital have been cautioned to be mindful of fraudsters promising to protect their illegal structures from removal by the security sub-committee, of the task force on covid-19.
“The warning is coming against the backdrop of reports of persons claiming they could influence members of the taskforce against the removal of their illegal structures marked for demolition.
“Some unsuspecting members of the public who have already fallen prey to the fraudsters, were allegedly told to pay some amount of money to protect their structures that were eventually removed.
“The fraudsters are apparently taking advantage of the removal exercise at Swali market, Etegwe and Edepie illegal markets by Tombia Roundabout to defraud gullible landlords and traders.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the taskforce is not under the influence of any person or group of persons and takes directives from only the Executive Governor of the State or his representatives.
“Owners of illegal structures identified for removal would not only be given prior notice but also asked to remove them before the commencement of any action.
“The taskforce has not and does not have any reason to engage the services of person(s) to collect money from anyone on its behalf and thus wants concerned members of the public to report suspected fraudsters to the Police foŕ arrest and subsequent prosecution,” Akpor stated.
The government advised landlords and shop owners having illegal structures and unapproved extentions on buildings particularly on major roads in the state capital to remove such structures to avoid forceful demolition by the taskforce soon.
Also, traders at Igbogene, Okaka and Opolo markets as well as Opolo roundabout are also advised to remove all their illegal structures immediately as the taskforce will soon move in to remove such structures as part of the urban renewal plans by government.