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Displaced Otodo-Gbame residents seek FG’s help


Homeless evictees with their belongings in a boat

• Evictees begin contempt proceeding today over demolition
• Shanty is safe haven for illegal aliens, fleeing Boko Haram insurgents, says NGO

Three days after thousands were displaced from Otodo-Gbame, a Lagos waterfront slum community in the Lekki area of the state when their buildings were demolished by the state government, the evictees have made an appeal to the Federal Government to assist them in rebuilding their destroyed homes.

This is just as community leaders, alleging flagrant disobedience of a court order, have threatened to commence contempt proceeding against the Lagos State government over the demolition carried out on Friday.

Co-director of Justice Empowerment Initiatives (JEI), a community-based legal and empowerment organisation, Megan Chapman, told The Guardian yesterday that their lawyers would file the papers today since the demolition took place at the weekend.

According to her, about 4,698 persons were affected by the demolition allegedly carried out by Lagos State task force, police and officials from the Ministry of the Environment without any prior notice. She said Friday’s action was even more shocking as they had just commenced a court-ordered mediation with the state government last week.

One of the displaced residents, Thomas Unga, said: “Members of the community were thrown into dire state following this demolition, not forgetting that something like this happened in November 2016 and at a time when we were trying to resettle after recovering from the last demolition.”

Attempts to get the spokesperson to the Lagos State governor, Habib Haruna, to comment on the matter failed, as he neither picked his calls nor responded to the text messages sent to his telephone number.

However, a civil society organisation, Safe Habitat, has called on the state government and relevant stakeholders in the state to show serious interest at the rate aliens from neighbouring countries and criminals fleeing from other parts of the country into Lagos to create illegal settlements in some riverine communities.

The group with focus on environmental safety in a statement by its Executive Director, Ade Williams, at the weekend said: “We are concerned about information reaching us that some aliens and criminals fleeing from law enforcement agencies have formed the habit of creating illegal settlements and shanties in some waterfront communities, especially in Eti-Osa Local Council, where they constitute environmental nuisance and launch criminal attacks against residents of Lekki, Ikoyi, Victoria Island and environs.”

According to him, the illegal aliens, many of whom are fleeing from justice in their home country in Togo and Benin Republic, have taken refuge in the shanty settlements. He also disclosed that some recent security reports have revealed plans by the dreaded Boko Haram insurgents to infiltrate Lagos and set up base at the waterfront shanties.

“There is a need for a proper profiling to be done to all the people displaced from that shanty, which was renamed Otobo-Gbame. It is not a Nigerian name in the first place and many of those occupying the place illegally are aliens, who have been perpetrating incessant harassment, nuisance and robbery in the Eti-Osa axis.”

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