vio Lagos Ambode Meningitis
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode (2nd right), addressing the media on the rescue of three female students of Babington Macaulay Junior Seminary, Ikorodu at the Lagos House, Ikeja, on Sunday, March 06, 2016. (R-L) With him are Commissioner of Police, Mr. Fatai Owoseni; Attorney General & Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Adeniji Kazeem and Commissioner for Information & Strategy, Mr. Steve Ayorinde | Lagos Gov't Photo

At about 5am on Sunday, April 9, 2017, a crack team of armed policemen, a Lagos State Task Force on Environmental and Special Enforcement Unit invaded Otodo-Gbame, a waterside community in the Lekki area of Lagos State shooting indiscriminately and injuring a 20-year-old man in the process.

The mission of this team of demolishing agents, acting on the orders of Lagos Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, was to forcefully and illegally evict over 4,000 residents of the community who have lived in the area for over a century.

This exercise has been described as “purely a land grab” by the Lagos State government because it is located close to some of the most expensive real estate in Nigeria.

The brutal Lagos State agents demolished over 150 homes that morning, in the process, David Aya, a 20-year-old caught a stray bullet.

Several others, including one Monday Idowu, were also said to have sustained gunshot injuries as the team wet the structures with kerosene and set fire to them.

Lagos Otodo Gbame
Top left pix: Demolished and burnt properties of residents. Bottom left pix: Residents fleeing in boats on the lagoon. *Monday Idowu survived a bullet in the chest. | Vanguard

Images shared on social media and the press show that the residents fled their homes in boats as their homes were demolished by the Lagos State government agents.

BBC reports that police were shooting live bullets and tear gas into the community as continued to shoot at the residents even as they fled in boats into the water.

Blood And Tears For Land

It was gathered that some hoodlums had attacked the community on Saturday, killing one Elijah Avonda, 45, a father of ten children.

“On Saturday, Elijah (Avonda) was shot dead by some hoodlums. Today (Sunday), another boy was killed. The task force men started the demolition without any notice. They came in 12am and hundreds of houses were destroyed. They are still on ground, using a bulldozer to pull some structures into the water,” Mr. Zosu told Punch.

“Our children are scattered; many children were found in the river. We are totally confused. We don’t have anywhere to go.”

“I was not around when the incident happened. I received a call around 5am that marine policemen, task force officials and some hoodlums came in and shot continuously. They came with a bulldozer. People started running into the lagoon. David (Aya) was shot dead and Monday (Idowu) was injured,” another resident, Akinrolabu Samuel, told the newspaper.

“The task force men started burning the houses on waterfronts. About 150 structures were burnt down. People are stranded on the lagoon. There was an attack on the community yesterday (Saturday) too, and Elijah was killed in the process. He has two wives and 10 children.”

According to activists working with the community, there are at least two court orders preventing the Lagos State government from going ahead with the planned eviction.

Illegal Shanties Were Demolished – Lagos State

The Lagos State commissioner for information and strategy, Steve Ayorinde, told the press that no resident was killed in the brutal invasion. He also claimed that the demolished structures are “illegal shanties” and that the operation was in obedience to a court ruling.

“Otondogbame belongs to a private family. Since a fire incident happened in November 2016 and the case taken to court and referred to open-door mediation, nothing ought to be in Otondogbame,” Ayorinde said.

“It is the duty of the state government that both parties respect the position of the court, which is to return to status quo.

“Shanties, particularly those that have proven to be a safe haven to criminals and kidnappers, cannot be on our waterfronts. The structures are illegal shanties and they can’t be allowed because of the larger security of the state. “It has been established for months that riverine areas and illegal shanties around our waterfronts have been serving as safe access to illegalities and criminal activities. The government cannot allow that to continue to happen.

“The reported killing took place on Saturday and the task force men were not there. The reported killing was a result of a continuous fight between the two ethnic groups in that area. The government has nothing to do with it and the police have not recorded any death today (Sunday).”

A Lagos State government agency had tweeted on Sunday morning, as the issue began to trend on Twitter, that it would “not succumb to emotional blackmail” over the issue.

Amnesty International, Activists Condemn Ambode

The demolition of this community and forced eviction of the residents has been greeted with an outcry by the local and international human rights community.

Activists have begun raising money on Go Fund Me to aid the victims of this government action.

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