12,000 displaced as LASG demolishes houses in Oworo community
Over 12,000 people in Oke Eri, Odun-Ifa and Precious Seed Communities in Oworonshoki, Kosofe Local Council of Lagos State, were yesterday displaced as men of the state environment and special offences enforcement unit (Task Force) demolished about 250 houses in the area.
While some of the affected members claimed that only those living on the riverbank were asked to vacate, The Guardian gathered that the state government, through the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources, had issued notice to the affected residents to vacate their homes, which elapsed last Thursday.
The demolition was to check flooding and other environmental degradation along the riverbank.
But the affected residents protested against the exercise and prevented the men from accessing the area.
They accused the team of invading the area with bulldozers and security men, forcefully ejecting and destroying their property, before setting them ablaze.
The aggrieved residents also alleged that a 20-year-old man lost his life while trying to salvage his father’s belongings from the rubble.
Police, however, moved in and arrested three of the protesters for attempting to stop the task force team from demolishing their homes.
When The Guardian visited the area yesterday, some of the residents were seen discussing in clusters, while others were cooking in the open.
Some were selling their belongings to scavengers to raise money for food.
Debris of some demolished houses PHOTO: ENIOLA DANIEL
Men of the Lagos State Task Force were also on the ground to shield the demolishing team from attacks.
A 69-year-old man, Francis Adeseluro, whose house was demolished, said: “We learnt sometime ago that people who built makeshift apartments by the river bank were asked to leave. So, we were not bothered because we didn’t build around the affected line, but a few days ago, the Lagos State Task Force came with some people and started demolishing buildings unexpectedly and setting everything ablaze.
“I am 69, I suffered before building this house, now, I don’t have a place to sleep, where do I go from here? I have a wife and children; I would have looked for another place if I were informed earlier. I have started selling all I have to feed my family; I don’t know where to go from here. Government and good people of Nigeria should come to my aid,” he pleaded.
A resident, Olasile Kayode, said: “The situation has gone bad. The government didn’t make any provision. Thousands of people are already on the streets, confused, and it may lead to stealing.
“The monarch of the town has not addressed the people, no one has been here to address us on what is going on. Some people visited the palace, but they were told that the king was not around. A 20-year-old man was killed during the incident and several others have been hospitalised, especially elderly people.”
A candidate for the State House of Assembly in the last election, Babasola Owoaje, said: “The people were displaced overnight without government or social intervention. Bulldozers just moved in with police officers without notice and nobody was ready to answer the people; at a time when we are looking for means to alleviate the suffering of the people, this happened, and it is unfortunate. I have received over 100 calls and I can only appeal to the government to look into their case. It is not hard to tackle this because they have a database; the government should reach out and support them. Many of them are sleeping outside because they don’t have anywhere to go.
“Personally, I have reached out to some of them, but there is little I can do.”
When The Guardian contacted the spokesperson for Lagos State Task Force, Gbadeyan Abdulraheem, he denied knowledge of the action.
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