Some of the former dwellers of Otodo Gbame, a slum in the Lekki area of Lagos State, on Wednesday stormed the Lagos House, Ikeja, to demand the resettlement of over 30,000 displaced residents.
The protesters barricaded the entrance to the office of the state Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, carrying placards, leaves and mats, saying they would pass the night at the Lagos House if the governor failed to fulfil his promises to them.
The group said after the demolition of their homes in April 2016, the state government promised to provide relief to the evictees.
They said despite a court order directing that the evictees be resettled, the state government had yet to provide any resettlement months after.
The spokesperson for the protesters, Olutimehin Adegbeye, who is also the Communication Officer for Justice and Empowerment Initiative, said the government failed in responding to letters from the organisation.
But the state government appealed to the residents of riverine communities in Ilado popularly known as Otodo Gbame, to be more patient, saying efforts were ongoing to verify the list submitted for resettlement.
The state’s Commissioner for Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Relations, Seye Oladejo, said the government was very much aware of their pains.
He said, “The list is receiving attention and the governor is already aware of the list, but there has to be a process. We are in the process of verifying this list and to determine what the government could do to assist the people that were supposedly displaced as a result of the incident.”
Media sources say a man called Shawn, who was at the scene, reports that the protesters were brutalized by the police. Shawn gives his account below:
“After protesting through out the day,The people of Otodo Gbame slept at the Governor’s office when he refused to address them and sneak out through the back door, the taskforce were POWERLESS to do anything at the time because of Media eyes watching and they not having the right to arrest since it wasn’t a violent protest.
Later that night, when most where sleeping, Taskforce where sent to arrest them all, about two trucks confirmed where brought, It was chaos, Men were beaten and thrown into the van, Woman and Children suffered brutal handling from the Taskforce, the inhumane treatment to human beings who have rights, They (The Lagos State Government) couldn’t do anything to these people during the day because they didn’t want to tarnish their reputation, seeing public eyes (Different Media Houses) covering the protest, they planned for the night which they know everyone wasn’t watching, cowards! Later some people will praise The Governor, and screaming his name, but yet, don’t know what goes on at night.
God help the people of Otodo Gbame,all they ever wanted was their Land that was UNLAWFULLY demolished. They never attacked anybody, they sang and clapped in this peaceful protest, children laughing and jumping feeling happy.
But yet they’re treated as if they aren’t Human beings. Is Lagos for the rich only? Plans to make Lagos The Next Dubai at the expense of the urban poor, building a Lagos for The Rich,We farm for you, Fish for you,Protect you, Cloth you and you want us out?
Please share this, let the World know the kind of Government we have in Lagos’.”