About five banks’ branches and 80 buildings along Allen Avenue in Ikeja were yesterday shut down by the Lagos State Government as a result of “illegal conversion”. Among the affected banks are Sterling Bank, United Bank for Africa, Access Bank, Zenith Bank and Unity Bank.

Other notable businesses that were affected by the operation include Panasonic, Tantalisers, and Adebowale Electronics etc. Most of the affected buildings are used mostly for business purposes.

According to the Punch Newspaper, the “shut down” exercise was led by Mr Tayo Fakolujo who is the Secretary of the Lagos Building Control Agency (LASBCA). Also, leading the operation was Mr Kayode Daramola, a Director at the Lagos State Physical Planning Permit Authority (LASPPPA).

The Lagos State Government said the affected buildings were illegally converted for commercial purposes despite the fact that they were initially approved as residential properties.

Notices were supposedly issued to the owners of said buildings a month prior to the operation. LASBCA’s General Manager, Lekan Shodeinde said the notices were meant to forewarn the landlords while prompting them to regularise. They, however, failed to heed the instructions, hence the shutdowns.

During the exercise, bank customers and officials alike were reportedly seen being driven out of the buildings they occupied. Unity Bank was already sealed off prior to the commencement of business operations yesterday.

The owners of the buildings on Allen Avenue did not come forward to regularise their papers, hence the need to enforce the law. -Shodeinde

Meanwhile, the Lagos State Government plans to continue “carrying out audits on buildings in Lagos State to ensure safety.” The government said it is giving Lagos landlords six months’ grace to regularise their papers without risking penalties, after which more shutdowns will be witnessed.

In the meantime, the affected businesses along Allen Avenue will remain shut and as expected, this development will portend negative implications for them.

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