Thousands of people who were forcefully evicted in 2017 from Otodo Gbame, a waterfront community on the edge of the Lagoon in Lekki area of Lagos, on Tuesday gathered to lament their fate.
Thousands of residents who are victims of the forced ejection, which spanned November 2016 to April 2017, converged on Ebute Metta to condemn the Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, for chasing the poor out of their homes in order to build a mega city for the rich.
They also said they had not given up on the place they used to know as their home; therefore, they asked the Lagos State government to obey a court judgment in their favour.
Mr Ogundele Ibrahimoh Agbede, a resident of Otodo-Gbame, told SaharaReporters that he lived in the waterfront community for over 30 years before he was evicted.
He maintained that people had occupied the waterfront community even before Nigeria gained independence, adding that Ambode acted without respect for human rights.
"Lagos State want to develop everywhere; we don’t object to it but we should be taken extra care of," he said. "This present government came in the night to forcefully evict people, leading to the death of 15 people; some were missing while many were injured.”
Sani Muhammed, a policy and advocacy coordinator with Nigeria Slums and Informal Settlement, noted that eviction without consultation and compensation, as was inflicted on the people of Otodo-Gbame, amounts to cruelty and degrading treatment.
He said the state government should build an inclusive mega city consisting of both the rich and the poor.
“If Lagos wants to build a megacity, human components must not be lost and it must be inclusive," he said. "It should not be a situation where you keep evicting the poor for the rich.”
The evicted Otodo-Gbame residents urged Ambode to obey the court judgment compelling the state to relocate them.
Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo of the Lagos State High Court had declared the eviction unconstitutional, subequently asking the state to relocate the residents to another place or return them to their original homes.
A resident of the community, Murtala Gani Taiwo noted that ever since the state government appealed the judgement, it had been deploying delay tactics to prevent justice.
“Since the ruling of Justice Onigbanjo of Igbosere High Court, the state governor went for appeal and we have not heard anything. The appeal by the state government seems as a way of delaying judgment,” Taiwo said.
He asserted that the people of Otodo Gbame would not stop demanding for justice, as “Lagos is meant to be a land of justice and equity and not a land for the rich only”.
Taiwo Emmanuel of Oko-Agbon waterfront community stated that Lagos should be a place driven by inclusiveness.
He added that people are yearning for a society that is driven by the principle of equality, and enjoined Ambode to remedy the loss of lives and property incurred by the people in the process of the eviction.
SAHARAREPORTERS, NEW YORK