The Otodogbame community in the Lekki area of Lagos has faulted claims by the police that the Egun-speaking part of the settlement was involved in a violent clash with the Yoruba speaking part.
The Lagos State Police Command had, in a statement on Wednesday, said it intervened to restore calm during a clash between the two communities situated in Ikate, Lekki Phase 1. The police said it rescued a two-day old baby in the process.
Dolapo Badmos, the Public Relations Officer of the State Command of the Nigerian Police, said the police immediately moved into the area to prevent further breakdown of law and order.
“There is an Egun community mainly made up of people from Republic of Benin,” Ms. Badmos, a superintendent of police, said in the statement.
“They actually occupy illegal shanties. We were alerted about the breakdown of law and order in the area and immediately went to check Otodogbami community, Ikate Lekki Phase 1, where there is a fight between the Benin- Yoruba communities fighting over the supremacy of the territory.
“It’s an illegal settlement area, most of the structures there are shanties and because of a protracted dispute between themselves, they set fire on their different shanties. The Police moved into the area to restore peace and in the process of checking the area, we discovered that there was a woman who was trapped in one of the shanties with a two-day old baby who would have been burnt in the process.”
But Solomon Akojenu, a community spokesperson, said the traditional ruler of the area, Saheed Elegushi, colluded with the government to invade their homes with hoodlums.
“There is nothing like tribal fighting here, it’s just an excuse to eject us out of the community,” Mr. Akojenu told PREMIUM TIMES.
“It was those hoodlums that invaded our place and began setting fire to our homes. We have lived here peacefully for decades, until the king (Mr. Elegushi) gave us quit notice to leave this place. Why would we start fighting ourselves now?”
The purported crisis came barely a day after a Lagos court ordered the state government to immediately suspend its planned demolition of shanties along creeks and waterways in the state.
It also came one week after the state House of Assembly appealed to Governor Akinwunmi Ambode to reconsider the planned demolitions.
On Wednesday, Ms. Badmos said the state government has taken over the area while the State Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development would move in to demolish the remaining shanties and clear the rubbles caused by the inferno.
“The Police is alive to its responsibility of ensuring the safety of lives and property of its citizenry and would not hesitate to carry out the necessary action where the need arises,” she said.