Petition to Ambode
Dear All, I have been informed that the Church has been unsealed, Thank you Gov. Ambode for being a true leader and proponent of positive impact. God continue to bless to your reign as Governor of Lagos state.
Thank you all our signatories for supporting this noble cause.
A Happy Citizen.
April 26, 2017
His Excellency Governor
Governor of Lagos State Lagos – Nigeria
Dear Governor Ambode,
The Challenges currently facing THIS PRESENT HOUSE (TPH)
The city of Lagos woke up to this Breaking News on 25th April 2015: Lagos State Government gives approval to seal off This Present House for not having Building Plan Approval and Title Documents. Dr. Tony Rapu; the Senior Pastor of This Present House is recognised for his relentless work in societal transformation and social reform amongst the poor – indigent children, area boys and prostitutes in Lagos under various corporate and religious groups. He has worked with your government and that of your predecessors to develop quality of life for many in Lagos State. In the last 10 years, he has set up ministries to fund, support and rehabilitate several area boys and prostitutes – reintegrating them as responsible citizens of society, improving their lifestyles and ultimately reducing crime related incidences in Lagos State. His ministry also funds the construction and provision of education for indigent children in many poor locations in the State. Several children who would have grown up as illiterates have been reformed and educated to University level, working as responsible citizens of the state. Tony Rapu stands in our society as a man of integrity, high moral standards and compassion for the poor and downtrodden. We are quite perplexed and wondering why rather than celebrate such a man, Lagos State chooses to embark on a smear campaign and harassment of his ministry to such proportions. The allegations against This Present House (The Dome) are:
- The church does not have valid title documents for the Land where it currently sits and is developing.
- The church does not have an approved Building Plan for the on-going development on this land.
- The church fence was built under a power line. Let me address each of these points as I am privy to the history of this property and the building regulations in the State:
First of all, The Lagos State Physical Planning Authority (LSPPA) requires, amongst others, that every property owner submit its Title Document endorsed by the Lagos State Government before it receives their Building Plan application and processes same for approval. This step only provides proof of ownership over the property for development it does not structurally or architecturally verify the intended development.
TPH has occupied that land for fourteen (14) years now. The original owners from whom the church purchased the property in 2002 are currently engaged in an ownership tussle over the property (the case of the Itedo and Elegushi families). Such land battles are not new in Nigeria; they exist over many occupied and developed properties all around Nigeria. This clearly explains why our application for an endorsed Title Document has been in limbo. Naturally without the endorsed Title Document, an approved Building Plan cannot be obtained.
In spite of these difficulties, we have over the years consistently applied for both – endorsement of our Title documents pending resolution of the court case and building permit approval.
Our church has in the last decade grown astronomically and will continue to grow – the current building has the capacity to safely sit a maximum of 1000 persons. We have addressed this growth in various ways in order to accommodate our members and their children in an environment and within structures that adhere to international safety standards. One of the ways in which we chose to address this huge concern is by expanding our current structure to accommodate this growth.
I wish to then address the issue of the fence and regulated set back. The fence wall alluded to is the perimeter wall of the property. This wall was built upon purchase of the property securing first the bare land and then later structures built within for worship and management of the ministry. The fence complies with the government’s set back rule and all structures within the property are clearly more than the recommended 15 meters distance from the power line. To prove this, the government’s proposed boundary wall also aligns with our fence line.
Neither TPH nor Government walls seem to contravene this rule! If this is the case, why then is the government accusing us of contravening the same rule it is building its walls on? Why is the government threatening to pull down our fence and erect its own fence across the church premises effectively shutting us off from public access? Why use taxpayers’ monies to demolish an existing wall only to build the same across the same perimeters? What is the government’s intention really in this case?
TPH raised funds and started the rehabilitation of the Freedom Way road works before government stepped in to complete it late last year. We were even commended for our efforts at the time; with a letter written and signed by Your Excellency. Why then is the government turning around now to completely shut us out?
As a church and responsible members of the Lagos society, we do not deserve this harassment from Lagos State. More so, Dr. Tony Rapu does not in any way deserve the embarrassment and harassments unleashed on himself, his ministry and reputation in the last few days. If a property is under contention in court and the government does not provide avenues through which development can take place to secure lives and enhance environmental equity of the state, how then have we contravened the law? Why is the church (TPH) and Dr. Rapu the target of this harassment when the norm in Nigeria is development alongside acquisition of title as government and land laws develop to accommodate the peculiar Nigerian situation?
We, the undersigned humbly ask you, Your Excellency Sir, to use your good office and authority to arrest this matter on hand.
Thank you for your support and kind considerations.