Evicted residents of the Lagos waterfront community of Otodo-Gbame marched to the office of Lagos State Governor Akinwunmi Ambode to mark exactly one year since the community was demolished by the state government and its privies led by the powerful Elegushi royal family.
Residents of the waterfront community stormed the governor’s office to demand that they be permitted to return to their homes. The aggrieved evictees were met with hostility from police officers guarding the office of the governor, but showed resilience in pressing home their demand to resettle in their land.
During the eviction process that happened on six different occasions, millions of naira worth of property was destroyed, with around 500 houses demolished or burned down. The forced eviction in Otodo-Gbame began in November 2016 and was officially condemned by Amnesty International on Wednesday.
No fewer than 11 residents drowned during one of the evictions and many were shot, including Elijah Avonda and Daniel Aya, who died as a result of their injuries.
On June 21, 2017, Justice S.A. Onigbanjo of the Lagos State High Court ruled in favor of all waterfront residents, declaring that eviction without resettlement is unconstitutional. The court then ordered the Lagos state government to consult with and resettle all evictees.
This ruling by the court has since been ignored by the Lagos State government, as Otodo-Gbame residents have neither been resettled nor allowed back into their original homes, as the Elegushi family is currently developing the land.
Speaking to SaharaReporters, Monday Idahso revealed to our correspondent that his father was born in Otodo-Gbame thereby debunking the claim by Lagos State government that the land is simply a temporary settlement for fishermen.
Another resident, Christianah Baba, disclosed that evicted residents of Otodo-Gbame have been staying with relatives outside the community while others have been forced to squat in squalid conditions.
“We have been sleeping up and down since we were sent out by Ambode. My family and I have been sleeping in boats at Makoko where some of us moved to,” Ms. Baba said.
She further labeled the Elegushi royal family as thieves, stating that they employ the services of the police and state governor to take over any land of their choice.
Expressing their discontent, the waterfront residents demanded that the state government respect human rights and allow them to move back to their homes. They are also demanding an immediate moratorium on demolitions in Lagos State, full and adequate compensation of all affected by the forced eviction of Otodo-Gbame and justice for the families of Elijah Avonda and Daniel Aya who were killed.