Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has promised that the federal government will not let the persons who pulled down a historic structure built by returnee slaves from Brazil to go scot-free.
Muhammed made the vow in a statement issued monday after inspecting the cite of the 190-year-old structure in Lagos at the weekend.
The Brazilian themed edifice was gazetted as a national monument in 1956.
Government has already instituted legal actions against the developers over the property.
Muhammad vowed that government would not tolerate the destruction of national monuments anywhere in the country for whatever reason.
‘’Because they wanted to develop this place, they have broken so many laws. Fortunately, this is a country of laws and we are ready to meet them in court and one thing I can assure you is that nobody can benefit from his own crime.
‘’I want to assure you that we will challenge them in court and we are going to get our reliefs and we will restore this building to its formal glory. We have the picture, we will rebuild it,’’ he said.
He lamented that the monument was symbolic as it chronicled the historical, cultural and social relationship between Nigeria and Brazil.
‘’It is like a living monument of our (slave trade) past. It was a monument that exhibited the Brazilian architecture at that time, which is rare to come by anywhere in the world. It is a remembrance of what our ancestors went through in slavery and how they triumphed, came back and showed that they were well-to-do. The important thing is that a people without history will perish very fast. This building was worth billions of dollars because it symbolised our past.
‘’No amount of skyscrapers can replace this history and all important monument that has been demolished, and I want to assure you that nobody can profit from his crime. You cannot go to court now and say that because the structure has been destroyed, the land should go back to the owner.
‘’This is why I have come here with the (Lagos State) Commissioner of Police, who has been quite helpful. I want to assure Nigerians that we are going to pursue whoever has destroyed this place. It may take time, but the hand of the law is long and the wheel of justice grinds
slowly but surely,’’ he said.