Legacy also known as Legacy 1995, an historical and environmental interest group of Nigeria, has condemned the unlawful destruction of the iconic gates at the Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS), Lagos Island.
The gates are essentially historical monuments and emblems of Nigeria’s independence.
Prior to the demolition, the previous entrance structure had gigantic sculptures of four white horses hovering above the gate and seven red eagles, which are symbols from the national emblem signifying Strength and Dignity respectively.
Other monuments in the square include the Remembrance Arcade (with memorials to World War I, World War II and Nigerian civil war victims) and the 26-storey Independence House, built in 1963 which was for a long time, the tallest building in Nigeria.
In a press statement published on Legacy 1995’s social media platforms, the group remarked that the TBS is one of the listed sites marked for preservation under the Lagos State Listed Sites (Preservation) Law 2011. The law provides a framework for the preservation, protection and restoration of historical properties and cultural heritage sites in the state.
According to this law, listed sites shall not be altered, demolished or improved upon without the consent of the governor.
According to the group, “Legacy has seen with great concern the destruction of a historical monument that has been started at Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS). We understand that this important property has been sold to a private investor, however, TBS is a listed building: the site is listed as a Grade 1 Monument under Lagos State Law. This means that a purchaser must not do anything which changes the way the property looks, he can only restore what may have deteriorated.
“So far valuable gates have been destroyed and removed, they must be replaced in accordance with the original design and the horses and eagles above the gates must be protected. We appeal to the powers that be to take all necessary measures to protect this and other historical properties in the interest of tourism here and now and for future generations.
“The site was the stage of Nigeria’s Independence Celebration on October 1, 1963. Its imposing facade with white horses and red eagles is one of the historic post-colonial icons of Lagos Island. This important chapter of Nigerian history should not be allowed to be demolished. Save our heritage!”
Legacy also has been on a mission of promoting and preserving the character and appearance of Historic Monuments and the Environment and Cultural Entities in all parts of Nigeria, for both adults and children and providing a recorded legacy for future generations.
TBS is a 14.5-hectare ceremonial ground originally called “Race Course” that served as a sports field that hosted horse racing, but included a section for football and ground to play cricket.
The land was provided to colonial authorities by Oba Dosunmu in 1859, who thereafter, built up the surrounding areas. It became the designated race course which also hosted Empire Day Parades in the then Colony of Lagos. The course was later converted to a parade ground by the central government of Gen. Yakubu Gowon who had been loaned the property by the government of Lagos State led by Brig. Mobolaji Johnson. That parade ground became the Tafawa Balewa Square parade ground.