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Monday, October 20, 2008

Lagos warns miscreants over Zain facilities

The Lagos State Government has sounded a note of warning to miscreants in its domain to stop forthwith the harassment being meted on contractors engaged by one of the leading mobile operators in the country, Zain Nigeria and looting of the facilities in Ikotun, Egbeda, Iju, Olowora and Mile 12.

Giving this warning, last weekend, the General Manager, Lagos State Infrastructure Maintenance and Regulatory Agency (LAIMRA), Mr. Joe Igbokwe, cautioned that youths in the state who have constituted themselves as social miscreants, and go about harassing telecom operators at sites, may be in for trouble.

According to him, government has concluded plans to arrest and prosecute offenders, following the recent assault by ‘Area Boys’ on staff of the contractor handling the ongoing power expansion project embarked upon by Zain Nigeria.

Mr. Igbokwe, also warned the affected persons to desist from what he described as criminal and unpatriotic acts that are inimical to growth and development of the state, stressing that government will not condone acts of hooliganism, criminality, sabotage and unpatriotism as offenders will be made to face the consequence.

He recalled that followed the epileptic state of power supply in the country generally, of which a Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) operator, Zain Nigeria, had taken it upon itself as part of its corporate social responsibility, to extend electric power lines and install transformers at various locations in the state.

As said by him, this is aimed at providing electricity to its host communities across the state, describing it as kind gesture exhibited by Zain, but lamented that the project met with stiff opposition from a number of social miscreants in some parts of Lagos who capitalized on the opportunity to extort money from contractors before allowing them to carry out the project.

In an attempt to resist the extortion, he said, the site workers were beaten mercilessly and their equipment were either seized or vandalized.

Although the power project was successfully carried out in some areas of the state, but opposition came from hoodlums in some Lagos suburbs like Ikotun, Egbeda, Iju, Olowora and Mile 12, where they have formed a parallel government, taxing and beating up site workers.

He pointed out that the attention of the state government was drawn by an email sent to Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola on September 22, 2008 at exactly 7:56 pm by the contractor handling the power expansion project.

Part of the email read “Sir we have an immediate problem on the power project we are handling for Zain at various communities in Lagos. We are extending power lines and installing transformers at various locations. This project can be expanded for the benefit of the communities on giving transformers and electricity to some of the communities in partnership with Zain.

Especially in Ikotun, Egbeda, Iju, Olowora and Mile 12 areas, the people have constituted a parallel government taxing us and beating up our men. Sir this development should be checked because this same people do not pay tax and they forcibly tax us and beat up our engineers at location sites.

The power project was supposed to have been done by PHCN, but Zain Nigeria is financing it. We need your intervention as this will affect the image of Lagos and will negatively affect foreign and local investors interested in working in Lagos. Sir, Lagos State government should address the issue promptly by setting up task force to curb this development”, the email added.


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