Hundreds of Makoko residents, on Monday, trooped to the Lagos State government secretariat to register their displeasure over the continued demolition of their wooden homes which began last week.
The residents, who arrived in rented buses and cars, also said that they were unhappy with the death of Timothy Asinponu, a local chief in the community, who was allegedly shot by a police officer.
With placards bearing such messages as ‘We are poor but we are humans. We are fishermen’; ‘When you came looking for votes, you didn’t call us foreigners, you promised to develop our place’; ‘Our lives revolve in the waters’; ‘Your officials promised they will only demolish 100 metres away from the power line’; the residents demanded to know who masterminded the killing of Mr. Asinponu, 51.
‘We are human beings’
Felix Morka, the Executive Director of Social and Economic Rights Action Centre (SERAC), who organized the protest, said that the demolition of wooden shanties was an infringement on the rights of the occupants.
“We are human beings and deserve some respect. They may be in power but we put them there to serve our needs,” Mr. Morka said.
Mr. Morka further stated that the state government’s argument that insecurity was the reason for the demolitions does not hold water because he has been “going to Makoko for 18 years and I have never been robbed but I have been robbed in Ikoyi.”
Some of the residents said they had nowhere to go after their homes were demolished.
“That was where I was born, there’s no place I can call home again,” said a protester who identified himself as Stephen.
Responding to the residents, Babatunde Fashola, the state governor, did not provide the answers to who masterminded the killing of their chief.
But he apologized to them over his death adding that “we’ll see his family and see what we can do….”
“We will continue with the demolition, we know what we are doing…. There are many foreigners there without papers,” Mr. Fashola added.