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Thursday, February 2, 2023

Otodo Gbame evictees occupy Lagos seat of govt, demand resettlement, compensation

Evicted residents of Otodo Gbame community on Wednesday, November 15, 2017 stormed the Lagos State Government House at Alausa, Ikeja, demanding resettlement and compensation from the authorities.

Otodo Gbame
The protesters at Government House

Some of the protesters, including a pregnant woman, who marched from MKO Abiola Park at Ojota, slumped at the Government House.

It was alleged that policemen at the Government House used tear gas on the peaceful protesters, causing some of them to slump.

Otodo Gbame
A girl slumped during the protest

The protesters, who blocked the road to Government House, some lying on the road, vowed not to leave until Governor Akinwunmi Ambode comes out to address them.

The evictees were demanding resettlement and compensation from government, since the land out of which they were sacked would not be used for public infrastructure but to be sold to individuals for private development.

Thousands of evictees, including the aged, women with babies, children, youths as well as able-bodied men and women, took part in the protest march from the Ojota part to Government House.

The protest was used to mark one year since the first phase of forced eviction of over 30,000 people from Otodo Gbame community in Lagos. It was organised with the support of Justice and Empowerment Initiatives – Nigeria (JEI), Nigerian Slum/Informal Settlement Federation and Amnesty International Nigeria.

Otodo Gbame
A pregnant woman also slumped during the protest

The grouse of the evictees was that “the Lagos State government was yet to implement any relief or resettlement in line with its own promises and the judgment of Hon. Justice S.A. Onigbanjo of the Lagos High Court.”

Counsel to the evictees, Chioma Ngoka, said the 30,000 evictees occupied a massive land at the now highbrow Lekki Phase 2.

Otodo Gbame
It appears babies were also actively involved in the protest

Even as it is suspected that the area would be developed into a luxury estate, the people were just asking for resettlement and compensation.

Asked how much compensation the people were looking at, Ngoka said the government should engage the people first.

Olutimehin Adegbeye of JEI corroborated Ngoka that the land would be used to develop private property.

Nigerian Slum/Informal Settlement Federation alleged that the now homeless evictees were facing extreme poverty, sickness and untimely death.

“Our children are no longer in school. Meanwhile, our stolen land is being turned into a luxury estate,” they stated in a flyer endorsed by JEI.

She is optimistic that, despite Nigerian governments’ penchant for not honouring court injunctions, with persistent pressure, Lagos government will yield to their demands.

The evictees’ demand, aside compensation and resettlement, include “no more forced eviction and justice for the murder of Daniel Aya and Elijah Avonda.”

Addressing the protesters at the Gate of Government House, Saheed Ayodeji, security officer in Government House, urged the people to calm down as a committee had been set up by government to address the issue of Otodo Gbame.

The protesters wore T-shirts with different inscriptions as “Informal is not illegal”, “We demand Justice for Otodo Gbame”, “End forced evictions”, “Housing is a human right”, “#SaveTheWaterfronts: Forced eviction, never again”, and “#OurLagos” (written in Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo and another local language).

By Innocent Onwuji

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