Displaced members of Otodo Gbame, a waterfront community in Lekki, Lagos, whose building was demolished by Lagos State Government had made an appeal to the Federal Government to assist them in rebuilding their destroyed community.
The members of the community condemned Lagos State Governor Akinwumi Ambode for going against a court order that restricted further demolition of any waterfront community in Lagos.
Pointing out that the community has been under threat of take-over by the influential Elegushi and Ikate families, members of Otodo Gbame said they had lost confidence in the court injunction which went into place after a similar demolition occurred in November 2016.
“Members of the community were thrown in dire state following this recent demolition, not forgetting that something like this happened in November,” Thomas Unga, who lived at Otodo Gbame said. He lamented the forceful eviction, adding that community members were trying to resettle as they were just recovering from the November 2016 demolition.
“Everybody was surprised to see the excavators came into the community,” Mr. Unga said. “We tried explaining to them that they cannot enter the community because we have a court order that bars anyone including Governor Ambode to demolish any building here.”
Mr. Unga said that police officers ushered the demolition crew into Otodo Gbame, shooting guns into the air and firing teargas to scare people away from the community.
He continued, “this is a sad situation we are in now since we are just recovering from the November 2016 demolition. In November, there were traces that the Elegushi family is behind the demolition but now, the Ikate people are part of the suspects. They want to forcefully take this land from us and we know they are working with the backing of Lagos State government.”
Paul Kunnu watched helplessly as his community was leveled to rubble. He said the demolition was a clear disregard of the court order.
“Governor Ambode clearly went against the law and illegally gave some people power to come into our community to demolish over 500 houses displacing about 25,000 people,” Mr. Kunnu said.
Another resident, Florence Sotu, whose house and belongings were burnt, said she has been sleeping in a boat since the demolition.
“My two kids and I have nowhere to go because this is the place we had been all our lives,” she said. “Since the demolition, we have been sleeping in the boat, all our belongings were burnt along with our house because we were not around when the incident took place.”
The community is calling on the federal government to step in and assist in rebuilding of their community.
“We have been talking with the state government since the first demolition in November,” Mrs. Sotu said. “We will continue to negotiate and we want to plead to them to make sure that we retain this place because this is our home.”
The community is in negotiation with the Lagos State government and is hoping the state will ensure the negotiation yields a positive result.
“We don’t have anywhere to go,” Mr. Kunnu said. “This is where all of us were born, including our fathers and grandfathers. This is the only place we know as home.”